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Title: Bill Bolton and the Winged Cartwheels

Author: Noel Sainsbury

Release date: December 4, 2018 [eBook #58407]
Most recently updated: April 17, 2019

Language: English

Credits: Produced by Stephen Hutcheson and the Online Distributed
Proofreading Team at


Bill Bolton and the Winged Cartwheels

and the
Winged Cartwheels

Lieutenant Noel Sainsbury, Jr.

Author of
Bill Bolton, Flying Midshipman
Bill Bolton and the Flying Fish
Bill Bolton and the Hidden Danger


Copyright, 1933
The Goldsmith Publishing Company

To Ashton Sanborn, who is even a finer fellow than I have depicted, and who has done even more exciting and more interesting things than are narrated in this story.


I The First Find 15
II Number Fifty-seven 32
III Stolen! 49
IV What Happened at the Dixons’ 61
V Bill’s Hunch 72
VI Heartfield’s 82
VII Beyond the Falls 95
VIII A Near Thing 107
IX At a Dead End 118
X Enter Washington 133
XI The Man with the Wheeze 145
XII Argument 159
XIII Plans 168
XIV A Friend in Need 182
XV The Shooting Flame 200
XVI The Professor Talks 211
XVII Mizzentop 224
XVIII The Elephant Gun 237

Bill Bolton and the Winged Cartwheels


Chapter I

“You and I, Bill,” said Osceola, “are on top of the world and throwing rocks at rainbows!” The young Seminole chief, stooping quickly, picked something out of the short grass at the side of the Bolton driveway. “A couple of months ago I was a slave in a cypress swamp without a dollar to my name. Now I stumble over them!”

“That’s queer,” said Bill, staring at the silver disk in his friend’s hand. “It’s one of those cartwheels they hurl at you out west instead of dollar bills.”

“Nobody,” declared Osceola, “ever hurled dollar bills at me!”


“I mean,” said Bill, “it’s queer finding one here. Wake up—don’t let this new-found wealth cramp your usual technic. You’re in New Canaan, Connecticut, now—not far away on the western pl—”

“There’s something queerer than that about this cartwheel—look!”

Bill took the extended silver piece and examined it. The coin seemed genuine enough. Minted in 1897, the head of Liberty was portrayed on one side and backed by the well-known National Bird, who flaunted a streamer of E Pluribus Unum in his beak. But this particular silver dollar was no longer good as “coin of the realm.” Across Liberty’s face a pair of spread wings was cut deep into the metal, while the American eagle was defaced by two numerals, 1 and 3.

“Somebody’s pocket-piece, don’t you think?” suggested Osceola.

Bill nodded. “That design and the numerals are diecut. Those wings over poor old Liberty’s pan look like an aviator’s device.”


“Some cloud-dodger’s mascot, I expect. Thirteen’s probably his lucky number.”

Bill handed back the coin. “Stick it in your pocket. If we see it advertised, you can easily return it. In the meantime, the mascot may help you to keep the luck you were crowing about just now.”

“And why shouldn’t I crow? Instead of having to work my way through my last year at Carlisle, your father puts me in charge of the foundation he has inaugurated to help the Seminole Nation. Now, Deborah and I can get married in the fall. Why shouldn’t I take the count on my worries? And you’ve got no kick coming. You’re sitting pretty yourself.”

“I sure am,” admitted Bill. “Our Navy’s a swell outfit but I never expected to stay in after my two years’ sea duty when I’d finished up at the Academy. Now that the President himself has let me resign and put me on Secret Service work—well, there’s only one thing I don’t like about it.”


“What’s that?”

“Oh, people—my friends, I mean, think I’m loafing. They don’t understand why I should suddenly leave the Navy. And of course I can’t tell them. This other job must be kept a secret. The President said so.”

“I don’t believe anybody thinks you’re a quitter or a loafer,” argued the chief, “—not after the three big stunts you’ve pulled off this summer, and all the newspaper publicity you’ve had out of them. You’re talking through your sombrero, old son. Bill Bolton is front page news from Maine to California. If you keep hitting any more bullseyes, they’ll slap your phiz on a postage stamp!”

“Oh, yeah? Speak for yourself, John—or words to that effect. Looks like a dead heat to me. How about it?”

Osceola abruptly changed the subject. “If this silver dollar was lost by an aviator,” he observed, fingering the coin, “he never dropped it out of an airplane, I know.”


“And so what?” Bill was mildly interested.

“Well, the fool thing was lying on a leaf—and the leaf was only slightly bruised—”

“Maybe it bounced or rolled onto the leaf after it fell onto the driveway?”

“Not this cartwheel. There’s not a scratch on it, except for the wings and the number thirteen. Six bits to a counterfeit two-cent piece with a hole in it, the yap who owns this has a hole in his trousers pocket!” Osceola dropped to his knees and studied the short grass at the edge of the drive. “Yep, just as I thought—” He stood up and flecked a dab of mold from his immaculate flannels, “here’s the fella’s spoor. He wore rubber-soled shoes.”


“I thought,” said Bill, “that Dorothy Dixon was the one and only Sherlock Holmes in this village. You certainly run her a close second, though. What did the aviator who didn’t aviate do next? Keep on out to the garage and scratch his initials on that new de luxe roadster you bought last week?”

“Not on this hop, he didn’t. He—wait a sec till I get a squint at this. Yes! by Jove! it wasn’t me he was interested in, but your own sweet self.”

“How do you get that way so soon after breakfast?”

“Listen, you blind paleface, even from here I can see that his tracks go straight over to the house. He climbed up to the farther window of your room by way of that leader, and the ivy. Several pieces of the vine are lying on the grass where he broke them off getting up or down! Even you ought to be able to see that the wire on that window-screen has been tampered with. If you don’t believe me, shin up there and take a look!”


“Oh, I’ll take your word for it.” Several times before, in his career, Bill had encountered evidence of the young Seminole’s truly marvelous eyesight. “Do those scintillating orbs of yours tell you when all this occurred?”

“They most certainly do, you mole.”

“When, then?”

“Between nine and nine-thirty last night!”

“Sure it wasn’t quarter to ten?”

“Quite sure,” smiled Osceola.

“I know,” said Bill, “that you can spot anything in daylight, or in the dark, for that matter, but when you claim to turn yourself into a human time clock, I ha’e me doots—”

“Oh, yeah? Well, listen, kid, and I’ll prove to you that Red Men aren’t as bad as they’re painted. Last night I left you with the girls over at the Dixon’s, and walked in the front door just as your hall clock was striking nine-thirty.”

“That’s right. You came over here to work on some figures for your new Seminole schools.”


“O and likewise K. I went straight up to my room and took my work out on the sleeping porch, where it was cooler. You found me there when you got back at eleven, didn’t you?”

“That’s all right, too. But what’s that got to do with the climbing aviator?”

“Why, just this. From nine-thirty until eleven-thirty I was out on that porch with the light going. Then I went to bed there and slept till this morning. And let me tell you, Bill, old son, that the man has yet to be born who can shin up a rainpipe thirty feet away from me and I not know it, awake or asleep!”

“Maybe he came before nine.” Bill was already convinced that his friend knew what he was talking about, but he wasn’t hauling down his flag without a last struggle.

“It wasn’t dark last night until nine o’clock, daylight saving time,” Osceola explained patiently. “Also, last night there was a heavy dew, even you can see it on the grass still, and—”


“And the silver dollar was wet while the leaf remained bone dry, showing that said cartwheel was dropped early in the evening!”

“You certainly are the boy to ring the quoits,” mocked the chief. “But now that we know all about it, we really aren’t much forwarder. I don’t suppose you’ve missed anything in your room? You haven’t said anything about it.”

“No,” Bill said thoughtfully, “I haven’t noticed anything, but we’d better go in and have a look. I wonder who that bird was and what he wanted. Funny! Nothing was disturbed so far as I can remember.”

The two tall lads turned back toward the house.


“And there’s where our second-story aviator swung off the grass on to the drive when he was going home,” exclaimed Osceola, pointing to a thin spot on the gravel which bore a well-defined footprint, pointing toward the road. “If it was worth while, which it isn’t, we could probably find the tire-marks of the car he drove off in beyond the stone fence down yonder.”

Bill grunted. “When you say ‘second story,’ you probably hit the nail on the head. In future we’ll substitute worker for aviator, if you don’t mind. There are a lot of bum flyers with licenses, and a lot of bums who fly, but I wouldn’t insult the worst of them by classing him with a cheap sneak thief.”

“Maybe,” remarked Osceola, “he wasn’t so cheap at that. But we’ll soon find out.”

They went up the front veranda steps, into the house and upstairs to Bill’s room.

“I don’t run to jewelry,” observed Bill, his eyes travelling around the bedroom, “but he hasn’t touched my silver-backed brushes, or that string of cups on the mantelpiece. And the maids didn’t report any silver missing downstairs, either. I wonder what in thunder he was after.”


“Got anything of value in that drawer?” his friend inquired, pointing to a flat-top table desk between the windows. “Somebody’s been fooling with the lock. I can see the scratches on the wood—”

“Nothing but some papers, worth nothing to anybody but me. Old newspaper clippings, Navy orders, my honorable discharge and the like. By gosh!” he cried, “the lock’s busted! And somebody’s messed up the entire drawer. Look here—these things were in piles with rubber bands around them. Now they’re scattered all over the place—”

“Anything gone?”

“Wait, I’ll see.” Hurriedly he sorted out his possessions, then shook his head. “Not a thing. What under the sky-blue canopy do you suppose that dollar-dropping buzzard was after?”

“You haven’t said anything to anyone about the new job, have you?”

“You and Dad are the only ones outside of the people in Washington who know about it.”


“But this doesn’t look like it, Bill.”

“You don’t mean that the goop who got in here last night was in the know! Why, I haven’t been assigned any work yet. What could he expect to find among my papers?”

“Perhaps,” mused Osceola, “he, or whoever sent him, has an idea that you’ve been put to work already, and they want to know how much you’ve found out or what your instructions are.”

“Some gang the government is after, you mean?”

“It’s quite possible.”

“But how could they learn that I—”

“A sieve,” said Osceola sententiously, “isn’t the only thing that leaks. Someone in Washington has spilled the goldarned beans, inadvertently or not.”

“If you’re right, Osceola, this is serious business.”

“Of course it is. What are you going to do about it?”


“Wait, watch and listen. I’m due in Washington next week to receive my orders. Until then, I shall do nothing.”

“And I guess you’re right, at that. My surmises may be all wet, though I doubt it. Just the same, we’ve nothing concrete to go on except that a lad climbs in the window and goes through your desk.”

Bill closed the drawer. “Let’s forget it, then,” he suggested. “At least for today. You and I, old Rain-in-the-face, have a heavy date. Had you forgotten it?”

“Not likely. When you’re engaged, a fella can’t think of anything else but the next date!”

“You’ve sure got it bad,” grinned Bill. “Thank goodness, I’m still heart whole and fancy free!”

“What about Dorothy Dixon?”

“Aw, shucks! We’re just good pals, and you know it.”

“Says you!”


“Says both of us. I’m seventeen, and she’s a year younger. Neither of us is thinking about getting married, or anything like that.”

“Gee, I forget you’re really only a kid,” laughed Osceola. “Well, let’s shove off. The girls are going up there in Dorothy’s plane. They said they’d bring lunch. Where is this place we’re going to picnic, anyway?”

“Up in the hills beyond Danbury. It’s quite near the far end of Candlewood Lake.”

“Was it up that way you and Dorothy corralled the New Canaan bank robbers?”

“Yes, quite near there. That’s how we learned of the wood lot. It’s secluded, there’s a good spring, and it’s really a peach of a place for a picnic.”

“Well, let’s get goin’ then.”

“Coming, Romeo—coming!” Bill followed his impatient friend out of the room. “What’s eatin’ you? It’s early yet.”

“Maybe it is, but—well, laugh if you want to, I’m uneasy as blazes about those girls!”


Bill caught up with him as they ran down the steps of the side porch and headed out to the hangar.

“It must be awful to be in love. The girls are all right. Dorothy is an A-1 pilot. I ought to know. I taught her myself.”

Osceola said nothing more until they had passed the garage and stables and were crossing the flat meadow where the Bolton hangar was located. “Thank goodness, Frank has run out that Ryan of yours,” he exclaimed as they came into view of a two-seater monoplane parked before the open doors of the converted haybarn.

“Getting lazy in your old age, are you?” jeered Bill.

“No, but I’ll admit the sooner we’re off and up in the hills, the better pleased I’ll be.”


“Well, you can hop right in, old fuss budget. While you were working on your school plan, early this morning, I came out here and went over the bus from nose to tailplane. Pull out those wheel blocks and carry them into the rear cockpit with you. Meanwhile I’ll show you how the new inertia starter I’ve rigged her with can swing a prop. Make it snappy, big chief—this is an emergency patrol—the women must be saved at all costs!”

Bill adopted a mock-heroic attitude and roared with laughter at Osceola’s disgust. Twenty minutes later, Bill, at the controls of the Ryan, sighted a rectangular patch of light green framed in the darker green of the Connecticut hills twenty-five hundred feet below the speeding plane. He clapped a pair of glasses to his eyes and the woodlot sprang up at him. It seemed he could almost reach out and pluck the flowers that dotted the high grass. Then he turned his gaze to the upper corner of the field.


There lay Dorothy Dixon’s small amphibian, parked near the road which wound up the wooded valley. Close by, a motor car was drawn up at the edge of the field. For a moment he failed to sight either Dorothy, or her pretty Seminole friend, Deborah Lightfoot.

“Under the trees beyond the plane!”

Osceola’s shout almost broke Bill’s eardrums, coming as it did through the close-pressed receivers of his headphone set. Automatically, he dropped the glasses, caught at his safety-belt to see if it was fastened and shoved forward.

The Ryan bucked into a nosedive and dropped earthward with the speed of a shooting star.

Osceola’s premonition of danger had been a wise one. Beneath the trees, Dorothy and Deborah were struggling with two men.


Chapter II

Bill levelled off with an abruptness that jarred the very vitals of the plane. Then he allowed the tail to drop slightly, the wheels made contact and the monoplane rolled forward over uneven ground, propelled by her own momentum. Before she actually came to a stop, both lads flung themselves from the cockpits and raced for the trees thirty or forty yards away.


It soon became evident that they would be too late to come to close quarters with the girls’ assailants. Brave enough when they had members of the opposite sex to deal with, the ruffians had no desire to mix it up with a couple of husky young aviators. Flinging the struggling girls aside, they turned tail and legged it toward their car with a burst of speed worthy of Olympic runners, and no split seconds to spare.

Bill and Osceola immediately sheered off toward the road, but by the time they reached the edge of the field, the motor was only a cloud of dust hurtling down the valley.

“If I’d had a gun,” said the Seminole, without the slightest catch of breath, “there’d have been a different ending to this affair!” He scowled at the disappearing car and turned to Bill. “I thought you always packed a gat aboard your crates—when we went into that nose dive, I nearly broke my neck trying to find one.”

“Sorry,” gasped Bill, whose sprint had left him winded, “I never thought of them as necessary adjuncts to picnics before! Next time I’ll come provided. It’s just as well those thugs got away, though. Two scalped bandits would mean all kinds of unpleasantness up here in New England. Here come the girls, now. They seem to be none the worse for their adventure.”


“You,” declared the chief, “make me infernally tired.” He strode off toward Deborah.

“You aren’t damaged, I hope?” asked Bill as he came up to the trio.

“Only rather mussed,” smiled Dorothy, a pretty girl with brown hair and the figure of an athlete. “In fact, I’ve kind of an inkling that those foreign gentlemen got more than they bargained for. The guy that started to rough-house me, ran away with a broken wrist. Some of the old frumps around New Canaan stick up their noses at my jiu jitsu, but I’ve found it a valuable asset several times in my hectic career!”

“And what did you do to your sparring partner, Deborah?” he asked the slender Indian girl who had slipped her arm through Osceola’s.


“Not much, I’m afraid, Bill. The brute made me break three perfectly good fingernails.”

“I’ll say he did,” chimed in Dorothy. “And his face looked like raw beefsteak when he broke away from her. He nearly knocked me over, he was in such a hurry, and I got a good look at him. If you boys want a first class imitation of a wildcat gone wild, pick on our gentle Deborah. Take my advice, Osceola, and handle her with kid gloves after you’re married.”

“One of these days, I’ll catch that hound,” promised the young chief. “And when I finish the job he’ll look worse than his passport picture. How did this all start, anyway?”

“Well, you see—” began Dorothy.

Deborah interrupted her with a smile. “Let’s feed this bloodthirsty pair,” she suggested. “I’m longing for iced tea myself, and men are so much more reasonable when they’ve eaten! This big brave of mine will be starting on the warpath again unless we give him his lunch.”


“I,” said Bill, “second the Seminole chieftainess’ motion! Also, I bar scalp locks in my food. Let’s get to the chow before Osceola gets going.”

“Some day,” retorted Osceola, “you’ll say something funny, and the rest of us will die of shock from the surprise.”

“Here, here,” interposed Deborah, seizing his arm, “come on, we’ll have to do some forcible feeding, I guess!”

“Aren’t they the cute pair!” whispered Dorothy as she and Bill followed toward the grove of maples where the lads had first sighted them from the plane. “Deb’s asked me to be maid of honor at their wedding. I suppose you’ll be Osceola’s best man?”

“I suppose so,” said Bill gloomily.

“Why, you don’t sound very much interested! The Indian braves will all be in their war paint, and the squaws—”


“—it is hoped will wear something warmer and more appropriate for this climate!”

“Don’t be silly. You know what I mean. And anyway, no self-respecting redskin puts on war paint for his chief’s wedding. I guess it’s too suggestive of what he’s to expect after the ceremony is over.”

“Oh, is that so! Well, you women can certainly get up a good fight, if that’s what you’re driving at. I’ll bet you’re just tickled foolish to be in on the wedding party, and the pageant the tribe will make of it.”


“And your father’s plan to bring the whole tribe to New Canaan is just grand!”

“Oh, that’s part of it. Look here!” Dorothy turned on him. “Just what don’t you like about it, Mister Stuck-up?”

“Well—er—you see,” Bill explained, “the ancient Seminole custom forces the best man to kiss the maid-of-honor right after the ceremony—and I—”


He ducked just in time to avoid her open palm on the side of his jaw, and ran off toward his plane. Over his shoulder, he called: “Naturally you’re keen on the wedding,” he teased, “but there’s no excuse to get affectionate beforehand. I’ve got to make the Ryan secure. Run along now, and put on your war paint. There’s a smudge on your nose.”

“There is not!” snapped Miss Dixon, then she stalked off as Bill doubled up with laughter. “Some day,” she muttered to herself, “I’ll make that smart-aleck the one and only also-ran in a first class massacre.”

However, the first thing Dorothy did, upon reaching the picnic spot, was to hunt for her handkerchief and bring forth a compact.

Bill strolled back, whistling, hands in pockets. The others were already seated about a white cloth laid on the ground, which was spread with a lunch that made his mouth water. He threw a glance at Dorothy, caught her eye and they both laughed.


He dropped down beside her. “Let’s call it quits,” he grinned.

“Not on your sweet life, young man. One of these days—but never mind, now you’re my guest at luncheon. We’ll call it an armistice. Dig in. Everybody helps himself at this party.”

Osceola, who had been piling Deborah’s plate with everything in sight, in spite of her protests, started in to gnaw a chicken leg, and began talking with his mouth full. “Cut the comedy, Bill. Waylaying girls, and especially, waylaying my girl, is serious business. I don’t intend to let it go at that either—not by a darn sight. And the more I know about what really happened, the sooner I’ll be able to get a line on those bozos.”

“I’m just as keen as you are,” Bill retorted, helping Dorothy, then helping himself to cold chicken and potato salad. “Men like that need a good thrashing. You can’t count me out on any move you make. In fact I’ve got some ideas of my own—I got their license number as a starter.”


“That,” said Dorothy, and she reached across Bill for the biscuits, “may give us a start and then again it may not. It didn’t help much in the bank robbery, if you’ll remember. From the looks of those two tramps, I should not be surprised if the car had been stolen.”

“And where do you get the ‘us’ stuff?” inquired Bill.

“If you two boys think you’re going to run this show without Deb and me, you’ve got another think coming. Isn’t that so, Deb?”

“It certainly is. We both saw the men and talked to them. Where would you get a description of them if not from us?”

“Now look here,” Osceola waved a chicken bone at her, “let’s call it a foursome, and can all the argument. What’s more, Dorothy’s idea about the car being stolen, is, ten-to-one the right dope. That was a big bus and this year’s model. Those things cost a heap of money.”


“That’s the way I figured it,” answered Dorothy. “And let me tell you that no two men who made such a fuss about losing a dollar would cough up four thousand of them for a car like that!”

Bill stared at Osceola meaningly. “What did you say—that one of them lost a dollar?”

“Yes—and a silver dollar at that—one of those cartwheels they use out West instead of bills.”

“GOOD NIGHT!” exploded Bill. Osceola stared at him in dumb amazement.

“Yes,” she went on, “but why the great excitement? The dollar that man lost—he was a Russian or something, by the way he talked—well, that dollar started the mixup. But you two look as though you’d seen a flock of ghosts—what?”


“Just one,” said Osceola, and his tone was deadly serious. “But never mind that now. Get on with your own story, then we’ll tell ours.”

She looked first at one and then at the other of the lads. “Well, just as you say. Of course, I know there’s something I don’t understand behind this, but I’ll be a sport and do my talking first. Deb and I flew over here and parked my bus where you see her now. We made things shipshape aboard, then toted the lunch over here and went to the spring to get water. It’s over by the road, you know, and we were just about to fill the pail, when that car came bumping along the dirt road, doing fifty, if I’m any judge of speed. I’d just said to Deb that the fellow who was driving couldn’t think much of his springs, when something bright flew out of the window. It lit in the high grass near us, and I went over to see what it might be. The grass was so high and the ground so rutty that I couldn’t find a thing. Then I thought I saw something shining in the rubble, but when I picked it up, it was nothing but a piece of quartz, so I dropped it again. By that time the car had stopped and was backing up the road. Two men sprang out and came running toward me. They were both dark, and both spoke rather broken English. The bigger of the men yelled at me to give him back his silver dollar. I told him I’d seen it fly out of the car, that I’d been looking for it, but couldn’t find it. My answer seemed to stump him for a minute, then without another word, he and his pal got on their knees and began to comb that part of the field for it. I wasn’t at all taken by their looks, neither was Deb, so we filled our pail and came back here.... Somebody give me a drink,” she broke off, “all this talking makes me thirsty—”


Bill filled her glass with water, and after taking a few sips, she went on with her story.

“Where was I? Oh, yes, well, we hadn’t been here long when the men gave up their search and followed us. It seems that they’d seen me stoop to pick up that quartz and they thought I must have their old dollar! Of course, I denied it, but they were only more insistent. To finish the tale, the big one said that if I wouldn’t hand it over, he’d take it from me! Well, as you saw, he tried to do just that. Deb horned in, like the peach she is, and number two tried to stop her. Things were getting more hectic than pleasant, when they suddenly broke away, and I saw you boys hot-footing it for us. And I want to end this long speech by saying that never in my life have I been gladder to see two human beings. I haven’t had a chance to thank you both before, but I certainly do it now! It was simply stunning to see the way you came at them!”


“And that goes for me, Bill,” cut in Deborah, “I’ve already told Osceola, but I want to tell you, too, how much we appreciated the wonderful way you dashed to our rescue.”

“I think,” said Bill, “that the rescue, as you call it, was all in favor of the assaulters. Those bohunks, or whatever they are, bit off a lot more than they could chew when they tackled you Amazons. The chief and I did no more than save them from taking the count on their backs, worse luck!”


“Dorothy, did you say that the dollar landed in the field just below the spring?” asked Osceola.

“Yes, just there—or thereabouts.”

“Excuse me,” he said and stood up. “I’ll be back in a minute or two.”

Bill watched the young Seminole stride away toward the road. “That guy,” he declared, with a wink at Dorothy, “has a one-track mind. Wild horses won’t drag him off the track, either, once he gets started.”

“And some people—have no minds at all!” Deborah ran swiftly after her fiance.

“Ha-ha! Put that into your pipe and smoke it,” Dorothy laughed at the surprised look on Bill’s face. “She’s quick on the come-back, isn’t she?”


“Too blooming touchy, if you want to know—”

“Oh, my goodness! A girl isn’t worth a thing who won’t stick up for the man she’s engaged to!”

“Perhaps not—but I’m no girl—and all this love business makes me sick. Osceola has acted like a hen with one chick ever since Deborah came into the picture.”

“Oh, cheer up, old gloomy, she didn’t mean anything by that—any more than you did by your wisecrack! And by the way, you and Osceola are invited to dinner at my house tonight. You’ll have to dash away early though. Daddy’s gone to Hartford on business and won’t be back till tomorrow. I don’t want to lose my rep, you know.”

“Thanks for the invite,—but I didn’t know you had any.”

“Oh, you didn’t! Well, let me tell you, young man—”


Osceola’s voice cut her short. “Here it is!” He flung a silver dollar onto the white cloth.

Dorothy picked up the coin and examined it.

“Number two of the series, on a bet?” said Bill, looking up at the chief.

“Almost,” replied his friend, “but not quite. This is number fifty-seven.”

That night at dinner the main topic of conversation among the four young people was the winged cartwheels, as Dorothy had named them. They had arrived home too late to do anything about tracing the car license, and after the meal was finished, Bill and Osceola noticed that the girls looked tired and decided to leave even earlier than they had planned. They walked across the ridge road to the Bolton place opposite, and were in bed and asleep by eleven o’clock.


The telephone in Bill’s room awoke him with a start. He glanced at the luminous dial of his wristwatch, and caught up the receiver. It was then exactly ten minutes past two.

“Bill! Oh, Bill—is that you?”

“Speaking, Dorothy. Anything wrong?”

“Oh, Bill—please come quickly—those men have got Deb and—”

The wire went dead. Bill guessed it had been cut. Dropping the receiver, he snatched an automatic from under his pillow, leaped from his bed, and raced for the hall.


Chapter III

Bill burst into the hall and almost collided with Osceola, who had just stepped out.

“What’s the matter?” hissed the Seminole. “The phone woke me.”

“Got a gun?”

“Yep—what is it?”

“Come on. Deborah’s kidnapped—they’re evidently after Dorothy. They’re in the house now!”

The last sentence was hurled at Osceola as the two lads, both barefoot and in pajamas, raced downstairs and across the broad entrance hall to the front door.

“Wire was cut while Dorothy phoned,” panted Bill, pushing back the bolt and twisting the key in the lock.


Osceola uttered not a word, but he was first through the open door and took the porch steps at a single leap, Bill at his heels. They sprinted down the turf along the driveway, and were nearing the stone wall that bounded the Bolton property, when a car without lights swung into the road from the Dixon place and sped toward Stamford.

Without slackening in speed, the young chief spoke quietly. “Don’t fire. The wall hides the wheels—Debby might get hurt.”

“Could you—see her?”

“No. But I heard that little gat of Dorothy’s go just now. She’s still in the house.”

By this time they were crossing the road in two bounds and side by side they hurdled the Dixons’ white picket fence like hounds let loose from a leash.


Leaping flowerbeds and vaulting shrubs they flew over the garden, darted through an opening in the high box hedge and came on to the smooth turf where ancient elms cast mottled shadows in the moonlight. Then from the white shingled house directly ahead came the terrified screams of women, punctuated by the bark of revolver shots.

As they dashed up to the house, a wire screen flew out of a second story window and a slender, boyish figure dove head first out after it. Two or three feet below the window sill the porch roof sloped downward at a slight angle. The diver seemed to land on her hands, crumple up, turn a complete somersault and come swiftly upon her feet again with the ease and precision of an acrobat.

“Look out, Dorothy!” yelled Bill, as a revolver was thrust out of the window.

With the agility of a springbok, she leaped aside, firing from her hip. The bark of the four shots was almost simultaneous. There came a shriek of pain from the window, the automatic rattled to the roof, and the hand that had held it disappeared.


Bill lowered his gun. “Wait here till she’s parked,” he ordered. “Then smash a porch window and go in. I’ll tackle them from above.”

With the butt of his smoking revolver between his teeth, he took a running leap and went up a pillar with an ease and swiftness that demonstrated his seaman’s training. His hands caught the gutter, his body swung up and sideways and springing to his feet he ran along the slanting roof to Dorothy.

“Did he hit you?”

“Missed by a mile!”

“Good—” Bill picked her up. “Come on—”

“But, Bill—I’m in pajamas—”

“So am I—down you go!”

He dropped her into Osceola’s waiting arms. As she landed safely and the young Seminole stood her on her feet, he called: “They must have another car, Dorothy. Put it on the fritz!”


Then without waiting to see whether this rather cryptic command was understood, much less executed, he zigzagged up the roof to the side of the house. With his back pressed against the shingles, he moved sideways to the window and peered in.

The room was full of smoke, but he made out a figure slipping through the doorway into the hall, and fired. The door slammed and someone shot home the lock on the other side. From below came a crash of broken glass.

“Good old chief!” muttered Bill and went in through the open window.


He realized instantly that the bed was on fire. He grabbed the flaming sheets and threw them on the floor, kicking a handsome rug out of the way. Determined to save the rug, if possible, for a moment he was at a loss how to put out the flames. He did not enjoy the thought of stamping out a fire with his bare feet. The room was dark, after the brilliance of the moonlight out of doors, and the acrid smoke stung his eyes and set him coughing. Flames began to shoot upward from the smouldering mattress. His eye sighted a wall switch by the head of the bed, and an instant later he clicked the room into bright illumination.

The door to the bathroom was open and Bill caught the sheets by the ends which the fire had not yet reached, dragged them across the room and tossed the blazing mass into the bath tub. He turned on both taps, and ran back to the bedroom.

He next seized the mattress, doubled it over at the center, and endeavored to smother the flames. In this he was only partly successful, for the charred padding continued to smoulder and smoke. In exasperation he rolled it up, carried it to the window and thrust it forth. Quick as a flash, he was on the porch roof and not until he had flung it to the ground did he pause to fill his lungs.


But he was impatient to discover what was happening to Osceola below stairs, while he had been engaged with this inopportune blaze. He darted back into the smoke-laden chamber, and made for the door to the hall. It was locked. He picked up his automatic from the chair where he had dropped it and was about to fire into the lock when the handle rattled. Someone in the hallway was trying the door.

“Open up or I’ll shoot—” snapped Bill, and was seized immediately afterward with a spasm of coughing that left him almost helpless.

The key turned in the lock and the door swung inward, disclosing Osceola and a leveled automatic. Directly behind him stood Dorothy.

“Gosh!” she exclaimed. “You still here! Where’s the fire?”


The cool draught of air started by the opening of the door momentarily cleared the atmosphere and Bill composed himself with an effort. “In your bed—if this is your room,” he wheezed. “I put it out—darn it. Where’s that man gone? The one who locked me in?”

“Got away,” grunted Osceola. “And the other one, too.”

“Did they have another car?”

“Yes, but Dorothy got to it first and put the engine out of business. She—”

Shrieks and howls from above their heads cut him short. He turned to Dorothy. “You’d better run upstairs and let those maids out so I can get straight with Bill. They’ll wake New Canaan if you don’t. The poor things have been raising the roof ever since those thugs locked them in their rooms. Now they’ve smelled smoke and probably think the house is on fire.”

“Right-o! I’ll go up and quiet ’em.” Dorothy hurried off toward the rear staircase.


Bill leaned against the wall and stared at the mess in the room. “Either the guy we winged, or his pal, set fire to Dorothy’s bedding. He hoped it might give us a job putting it out and they’d have a chance to make their getaway. So far as I’m concerned they did exactly that. You don’t seem to have had any better luck.”

“You’re right on that, too. When Dorothy beat it round the house to scout for their car, I went through the living room window. And it will take some mending, that window! I smashed it with a porch chair.”

“Never mind the window—what did you do then?—faint?”


“Don’t try to be funny—I beat it inside and up the front stairs. Just as I reached this floor, I saw the two thugs flit round the corner to the back hall, and the service stairs. They had got out of sight by the time I got to the top of the stairs, but I heard the creak of the swinging door and knew they were on their way out through the kitchen. So I plunged down after them. And let me tell you, boy, plunged is just what I did. When I woke up, Dorothy was pouring a pitcher of water over my head.”

“When you woke up!”

“Why, you see, one of the guys must have grabbed a broom some fool maid had left standing in the back hall, and he had laid the darned thing slantwise across the stairs, about a quarter of the way down, with the broom end jammed into the banisters. I never saw it in my hurry, and I took the rest of the flight head first. I’ve got a bump on my bean the size of an egg. Why I didn’t break my neck is a mystery to me!”

“Oh, you were born to be hung,” said Bill airily. “But let’s hear the rest of what happened.”

“Look here, old chap, I’ve been driven nearly frantic by this mess—here we are—I fall down stairs, you fight a tuppenny fire—and we’re supposed to be doing something—anything—to—to—”


“Oh, I know it—don’t you suppose I know how you feel? Gosh, it’s got me the same way. But we’ll get her back soon. Meanwhile, we have to check up on each other, don’t we? It’s the only way we can get started on the real business.” Bill spoke as encouragingly as he could, but he had no idea how to go about tracing Deborah ... any more than had his friend.

“Sure, you’re right, Bill. Only when I think of Deb in the hands of those—Well, I’ll go on. Nothing important happened after that tumble I took. Dorothy brought me round, and those lads had beat it for parts unknown with at least a five minute start. She told me that after she’d fixed their car, which was the same one Number 57 went off in this morning, she hiked round to the porch again. She’d just got in through the window I smashed when she heard my fall—and found me. Just about that time, she smelled smoke, so as soon as I could stand, we searched for it—you know the rest.”


As he finished, Dorothy came up to them. “They’re all quiet, now,” she said, referring to the maids. “What’s next on the program? Have you got a plan of any kind?”

“We know what to do, all right—and that’s find Deborah—” admitted Bill bitterly, “but how to do it is another question, and I, for one, don’t know the answer.”


Chapter IV

Osceola looked at Bill. “I think,” he said slowly, “the best thing you and I can do right now, Bill, is to get into some clothes.”

Bill nodded. “Good idea! Socks and shoes will make a particular hit with me. If the soles of my feet aren’t cut to ribbons, they certainly feel as if they were!”

Dorothy, tight-lipped, arms akimbo, glared at them in disgust. “Well! You certainly are an energetic pair!” Her eyes fairly snapped with scorn. “Deborah’s fiance and his best friend see her kidnapped under their very noses, and then decide the best thing to do is to get dressed! My word—you make me sick—”


Osceola gave the angry girl one look, shrugged his shoulders and walked silently downstairs. The front door slammed, and Bill turned on her.

“Well, that was a very pretty exhibition, I don’t think,” he began.

“Oh, go home and put on a necktie!” she retorted savagely. “Oh, dear, how can you boys—when—” She broke off and burst into tears.

“How could you deliberately torture that splendid chap—I had no idea you could be so cruel, Dorothy. Why, Osceola’s the salt of the earth and you know it. He was too much of a gentleman to tell you what a little idiot you are, but I’m not!”

“Is that so!” With a quick gesture, she brushed away the tears and took a step toward him. “If Osceola is such a paragon, why doesn’t he light out and find Deb? He’s supposed to be in love with her, isn’t he?”

“He is in love with her, and that is what makes the things you said to him so brutal!”


“Then how can he waste his time—and that goes for you too—in silly chatter—why not start something—”

“Yes? and what—”

“Action’s what’s needed, and spelled with a capital A!”

Bill smiled crookedly. “And what kind of action, spelled with a capital A, do you suggest?”

“I’ve heard that he can trail anything that runs. Those men had to leg it out of here. Why doesn’t he follow them, for heaven’s sake, if he’s such a star at that sort of thing?”

“My dear young lady, Osceola has been three jumps ahead of you all the time. He knows that those tracks will only lead through your grounds out to the road. I don’t know where you got your ideas of trailing but no man, red, white, black or yellow, can follow another’s trail on an automobile highway. Dirt roads are one thing, tar or solid concrete are something else again!”


Dorothy looked discomfited. “I never thought of that,” she said.

“You see, Osceola doesn’t know where to turn next. Neither do I, and for a matter of fact, neither do you.”

For a moment she stared at him and Bill braced himself for a flood of tears. Instead she ran to him and caught his arm.

“Bill—I’m so darned sorry—I—”

“Oh, never mind—that’s all right,” he said gruffly, embarrassed by her contrition.

She shook her head. “But it isn’t all right. I’m going to slip into some beach pajamas, then I’m going straight over to your house and tell him just what a pig I really am!”

“There’s no need of that, kid. He wants cheering up, all right, but he’ll be back here soon to give me a chance to run over and put on some duds.”

“But what’s the idea—”

“You don’t think we’re going to leave you alone tonight after what’s happened?”


“But I’m not scared. Those men won’t come back again, not tonight, anyway.”

“Maybe they won’t, but there’s no sense in taking chances. Go into your room and dress if it will make you feel more comfortable. We can talk through the door. I want to know exactly what happened before you telephoned me.”

“All right. Wait and I’ll pass out a chair. If you’re as tired of standing as I am, you’ll need it.”

She went into the bedroom and came out with a wicker armchair in tow. “By the way,” she said suddenly, “why do you suppose those men picked on us? One of them was the big Russian who lost his silver dollar and kicked up such a fuss about it.”

“That,” answered Bill, “is one of the things I’m not sure about. In fact, I haven’t had time to put my mind on it.”

“You don’t think they came back for that pocket-piece?”


“Hardly that. There’s a whole lot behind this business that we aren’t onto yet.”

“Well, what’s your idea?”

“If you must have it, I’m beginning to believe that we’ve come into contact with a gang whose tokens or badges of membership are the numbered, winged cartwheels. And the gang is undoubtedly a large one. We know that there are at least fifty-seven of them.”

“Gee!” Dorothy looked startled. “Really, Bill? But why under the sun do these cartwheelers pick on Deborah?”

“Of course, I haven’t the dimmest idea what these fellows are up to. But seeing what took place last night over at my house, I’ve got a hunch that they think either Osceola or I are wise to what is going on. You two girls, after this morning’s experience, are probably the only two persons who have seen members of the gang, knowing them to be just that. Therefore, it’s quite on the cards that they want to put you both safely away where you won’t be able to identify those two until they’ve pulled off their big stunt—whatever that may be. Of course, I may be all wrong, but up to now we’ve had next to nothing to go on except those dollars!”


Dorothy looked at him admiringly. “I always knew you had a head on your shoulders, Bill.” She shut the door to her room.

“Better turn off the water in your bath tub,” Bill called after her. “And don’t forget I want your dope on tonight.”

“I won’t—just give me a chance,” her muffled voice came back to him. “Gosh, but this room is a mess!”

Bill set the chair just outside her door and sat down. He was tired and he wanted to think, but Dorothy didn’t give him much opportunity to do so.

“Can you hear me?” He guessed she was standing near the door.

“Perfectly,” he replied.


“Well, here’s the tale and there isn’t much to it. After you two went home this evening, Deb and I came upstairs. We got undressed and then went into her room, just across the hall from mine. I guess we talked for about an hour. She was telling me—oh, about this and that—whatever we talked about has nothing to do with what happened later.” Her voice grew fainter as she moved to another part of the room, but Bill could still hear her well enough. “After that I came back here. When Daddy’s away, I always lock my door, and it’s a mighty lucky thing I did tonight. I probably wouldn’t be talking to you now if I’d left it open. Deb locked hers, too, but it’s a warm night, and after I was in bed I heard her open it. I thought it might be a good idea to get more air myself, but the breeze was blowing in at this side of the house, and I was too lazy to get up. While I was thinking about it, I must have fallen asleep.


“Well, the next thing I knew, I heard Deb scream. Then I heard her shout—‘They’ve got me, Dorothy—phone Osceola!’ She knew I had an extension in my room, of course. She didn’t call again, and I figured someone had slugged her. The phone is right by my bed, but it took an awful time to get central. I could have killed that girl by the time she said ‘Number, please’ ... then when I gave her yours, it seemed an age before you answered. Then when we were cut off, I guessed that one of the thugs had cut the wires. Somebody tried my door, and I ran over to the bureau and got my little automatic. I was scared silly, but I knew you and Osceola would soon be here, so that helped a lot. I was just starting for the door, when the strangest thing happened. I heard the key turn in the lock and before I could do anything to stop it, the door was pushed open.”


“Wait a mo. Yes, the key sticks out about an eighth of an inch on this side. They must have got hold of it with a pair of pincers.”

“So that’s it! I couldn’t imagine—well, let me tell you, the sight of that key turning in the lock all by itself gave me the creeps!”

“What did you do when the door opened?”

“I started right in firing—of course I didn’t know what I was shooting at, but for a few minutes I had ’em buffaloed, I guess. Suddenly they made a rush. I fired once more, then beat it for the window and went through it—” She opened the door and came into the hall, clad now in a simple white linen dress. Bill saw that she had put on a pair of white tennis shoes and socks.

“Well, you’re some quick dresser—” he got up from the chair.

Dorothy smiled and made him a little bow. “And I timed it nicely, didn’t I? Just to the end of my speech—”

“You certainly made a dramatic entrance. Say—there’s the door bell—”



“Sure to be. I’ll cut along now and leave him to your tender mercies. See you later.” With a wave of his hand, he left her standing in the hall and ran swiftly down the stairs.


Chapter V

Bill opened the front door and let Osceola into the house. The chief was fully dressed. He looked tired and worried to death.

“You’d better go over and dress now,” he said dispiritedly. “I’ve phoned the New Canaan police station and the Chief will be along in a few minutes. Meantime, I’ll locate the place where the telephone wire was cut and splice it if I can. There isn’t much we can do until morning, worse luck. By that time, we’ll have a chance to line things up a little better, and perhaps have some course of action planned.”

“I’ve just got a hunch,” said Bill. “I’ll tell you about it when I come back. If the hunch turns out to be a good one, you and I will get on the job long before daylight.”


“Then here’s hoping it will be a good one—” Osceola’s tone was more cheerful now, “there’s nothing worse than this rotten inaction.”

Bill nodded. Then he called to Dorothy, who stood at the head of the stairs. “Where’s your father staying in Hartford?”

“The Hiblein, I think—he usually does. If you ’phone him, tell him I’m all right, and give him my love.”

“I will. So long!”

He ran down the porch steps, and hurried across the lawn toward the highroad. When he got to his room, he went straight to the telephone where he called up the Hiblein Hotel at Hartford, and eventually heard Mr. Dixon’s voice on the wire.

“Bill Bolton speaking—” he began abruptly and launched into an account of the night’s happenings.


“My thanks to you, boy, and to Osceola,” said Dorothy’s father. “I won’t waste time now in talking about this outrage—but you can count on me being in New Canaan just as soon as the car can get me there.”

“Just a moment, sir—there’s something else I want to tell you, and something you can do for us.”

“Shoot,” said Mr. Dixon.

Bill rapidly ran over the adventures of the silver dollars, gave his own suspicions of the case, and ended by mentioning his affiliation with a certain department in Washington.

“Good enough, Bill. That explains why you resigned from Annapolis, of course. You undoubtedly have a flair for this kind of thing. But there doesn’t really seem to be any tangible clue to go on in this beastly kidnapping affair. Have you hit on anything yourself?”


“The license number of the gangsters’ car, the one that’s parked in your drive at present, sir, may lead us somewhere. Of course it may have been stolen; and if not, the owner’s house would be the least likely place for them to take Deborah. Still, if we could locate that residence, Osceola and I might be able to get a line on the chap and his friends. What do you think, sir?”

“That sounds like a mighty good plan. No telling what you may stir up. But where do I come in?”

“Why, the office of the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles is in Hartford, you know, of course, and it won’t be open till nine in the morning. I thought that you, being the president of the New Canaan Bank, might have a drag with some of the politicians up there in the capitol, and that they might arrange it so you could get the information we want tonight. If you could do that, and ’phone it on to me, then Osceola and I might be able to get the jump on them, do you see? It’s not likely the owner of the car guesses that the girls took his license number this morning, especially as we did nothing about it right away. I’ll admit that that was an error on our part, but we hadn’t any idea of what we were up against then.”


“Don’t let that worry you,” replied Dorothy’s father. “You’ve done splendidly—you’ve figured a logical why-and-wherefor to this business, and that’s a piece of constructive work. What are you doing now?”

“I’ve come over here to put on some clothes, sir. I’m still wearing pajamas—”

“I see. By the way, what’s that license number?”

Bill gave it to him.

“All right. Now go ahead and get dressed, then wait at your house until you hear from me. It won’t be long, because it happens that the State Commissioner of Motor Vehicles is an old friend of mine. We played golf together this afternoon. I’ll have the name and address of that car owner for you in short order.”


He rang off and Bill hung up the receiver. He put on a bath robe and slipped his feet into a pair of moccasins. Then he went downstairs and out to the garage. There he saw to it that the gas tank of his own car, a high-powered sport coupe, was full, drove it round to the front door and went up to his room again.

When he was completely dressed he went downstairs. He was beginning to feel hungry, and the prospect of a motor trip with no breakfast at the end of it made the idea of food all the more interesting. After he had cooked a substantial meal of bacon, eggs, and coffee, and had consumed every particle of it, he felt decidedly better and more in the mood to carry on at this early hour.

Then he went into the living room and threw himself down on a large divan, where he relaxed tired muscles and brought his mind to bear on the matter of the winged cartwheels. Perhaps a quarter of an hour had gone by, when he sprang up and went into his father’s study. The telephone bell was jangling loudly.


“That you, Bill?” He recognized the voice as Mr. Dixon’s.

“Speaking, sir.”

“Well, I rang up the commissioner and here’s the car owner’s name. He is a Serge Kolinski, a naturalized Pole, and he has a house in Sherman Township, Connecticut. Do you know where that is?”

“Why, yes—the field where we picnicked is not so far from Sherman.”

“Well, this time you’d better run up there by motor. It will be handier for getting round than a plane, and a car may be more useful to you. Do you happen to know where the old Heartfield’s Club is?”

“No, I don’t. But I’ll find it.”


“Here are your directions. When you get to Danbury, take Route 136, going north. About twelve or thirteen miles farther on, you’ll find that the road winds through a narrow valley. Where the valley widens out you’ll see a large square white house on the right, and a red barn behind it. That is the old clubhouse. You can’t miss it, for it’s the only house near the road in that part of the valley. The club itself no longer exists. It failed financially a few years ago.”

“Then the club house is shut up?”

“No, it’s not. A chap named Davis and his sister have rented the place for the summer. But what I want to say is this: on the side of the hill above the club house are several houses, built by members when the club was flourishing. Mr. Kolinski has rented one of them and is living there. Knock up Davis, who is by way of being a solid citizen, and he can tell you which is the Kolinski bungalow.”

“Thanks very much,” said Bill. “We’ll get under way at once.”


“Now hold on, young man. There’s something else. I’m driving over there myself, and with me will be two other cars filled with state police. Deborah Lightfoot is Dorothy’s guest, and very naturally, I intend to be in on this. You will, of course, arrive at Heartfield’s before I do. Get a line on Kolinski, and do a bit of reconnoitering, if you like, but don’t start any offensive until we come. Those are orders, remember.”

“Suppose,” argued Bill, “that Deborah’s at Kolinski’s, and we see her being transferred to some other hiding place?”

“Use your own judgment in that case, my lad. The object is to get Deborah back, unharmed, of course. But you’ve evidently got a first class thug to deal with. And by the way, get one of your friends to stay in the house with Dorothy, if you possibly can. The thought of leaving her there worries me.”

“That will be taken care of,” returned Bill. “The New Canaan police have been notified. They are probably across the road now. I’ll see that she is well guarded.”


“Thanks, Bill. Good luck—and be careful.”

“I will—see you at Heartfield’s, sir.”

Bill hung up the receiver and went out to his car. He was surprised to find that it was raining.



Bill’s car sped into the sleeping town of Danbury. It splashed through the rain along streets where the lights ran together in golden pools. The swish of the water flying gutterwards was like the sound of the sea.

Bill spoke to Osceola: “There’s a dog wagon open,” and he pointed to a lighted sign. “Better eat. I had breakfast while I waited for the dope from Mr. Dixon.”

“If you had, no need of stopping then. Dorothy fed me before I left. I meant to ask you if you wanted anything, but this news from Mr. Dixon took it out of my head. There’s a sign that says Route 136—guess that’s our road.”


Five miles north of Danbury the rain slackened and finally stopped. The cool wind of early dawn sprang up and by the time they started to climb the winding turns of the Heartfield’s Valley, every cloud had been blown out of the sky. The east was painted a faint grayish pink as they roared into a straightaway between the wooded hills. Then the valley opened out, the road hugging the base of the hill on their left, while on the right wide meadows spread a carpet of high grasses that reached to the foot of the opposite hillside.

Half a mile further on, they came upon the old club house, set back from the highway in a group of fine elms. Here some attempt had been made to fashion a lawn, but as they swung up the rough drive, Bill noticed that the house was badly in need of paint and repair. He drew up at the side of the house, facing the red barn and an extensive apple orchard whose gnarled trees had not felt the pruning knife for many years. There appeared to be no bell, so Bill rapped sharply on the side door.


“Hello!” A man’s voice answered from behind a window screen just above. “What do you want down there?”

“Mr. Davis?” Bill stepped back a few paces so that he could get a better view of the window.

“That’s me,” said the owner of the voice, and yawned prodigiously.

“Mr. Dixon, the New Canaan banker, sent me up here to get some information from you, sir.”

“Wait a minute—I’ll come down.”

Osceola got out of the car and walked over to Bill. “How much are you going to tell him?” he asked in a low tone.

“Mr. Dixon said he was O.K.” Bill answered quietly. “Wait till he comes out. We’ll size him up for ourselves.”


The side door opened and a heavy set man with gray hair, arrayed in khaki trousers, a pajama jacket, and slippers, came out to meet them.

“Well, you are early callers,” he said jovially, “the New Canaan bank has a lien on this place, of course. I hope you haven’t come to turn me out?”

“Oh, nothing like that, sir,” smiled Bill. “We merely want some information, as I said before.”

Mr. Davis looked relieved. “You see,” he explained, “I’m a stockholder in the old club, so I have as much right to live here as anybody, I suppose. My business went pot last spring, so my sister and I are camping out here for the summer. I notified the receiver of the property, and as he said nothing about rent, I haven’t paid any.”

“We have nothing to do with the receivership, so set your mind at rest about that. My name is Bolton, and this is Chief Osceola of the Seminole Nation.”


“Why, this is an unexpected pleasure,” beamed Mr. Davis, as they shook hands. “You’re the two young fellows we’ve been reading about in the papers all summer. Don’t tell me you’re on the track of more slavers or pirates up here in this quiet spot?”

“Do you know a man named Kolinski, a Pole, I think he is?”

“Why, yes, I do, though not well. He’s rented the Landons’ cabin for the season. That’s the one right up the hill here, back of the barn.”

“Then he’s not a particular friend of yours?”


Mr. Davis’ eyes twinkled. “Well, hardly,” he returned with a shake of his head. “Kolinski is hardly what one would call a good mixer. He parks his car in the barn here—the hill is too steep and the path too narrow to drive up—and he seems to be a rather surly sort of chap. What he and the man who is his servant do with their time, I’m sure I can’t imagine. We have a nodding acquaintance, that’s about all. So I’m afraid that the little I know about him won’t help you much. But I don’t mind saying frankly that I don’t like the looks of him, nor of his man. He’s a shifty-eyed individual, and on the few occasions we’ve spoken I’ve caught him in a couple of lies about small matters that really didn’t amount to a hill of beans. If he’s trying to swing a loan from Mr. Dixon’s bank,—well, I’d want to be mighty sure of his collateral.” Mr. Davis pulled out a briar pipe and proceeded to tamp in tobacco from a pouch.

“Do you happen to know whether he is in his house now?” Osceola spoke for the first time.

“No, I don’t think so, because his car isn’t in the barn. The one you see there belongs to me.”


Osceola gave Bill a meaning look. “It is the car—or rather its license—that brought us up here,” he went on. “About two o’clock this morning, my fiancee, Deborah Lightfoot, was kidnapped from Mr. Dixon’s residence in New Canaan. The kidnappers were forced to leave their car behind, and we have learned that it belongs to your neighbor, Mr. Kolinski. There were evidently two groups, and the first got away with Deborah in one car, but we arrived in time to forestall the others, though we weren’t able to capture them and they got away on foot.”

“What a dastardly business!” exploded Mr. Davis. “And you say Kolinski’s car was left behind?”

“Yes, Mr. Dixon, who was in Hartford at the time, is on his way over here with a cordon of state police. They ought to arrive within an hour or so.”

“Have you fellows got guns?”

Bill patted the holster under his left arm. “We have—and there are a couple of rifles in my car.”


“Wait till I get mine and slip on a pair of boots—” Mr. Davis made for the house. “I’m going up the hill with you.”

“He’s a good hombre!” declared Osceola to Bill, as Davis disappeared.

“He is that! Let’s corral the rifles.”

In a very few minutes, Davis reappeared. The only visible change in his costume consisted of a pair of high trapper’s boots laced to the knee. He wore a cartridge belt slung over one shoulder, and in the hollow of his right arm he carried a repeating rifle.

“Come along—” he led them down a path which cut a narrow swath through the field behind the house. “Maybe our friends are up there in the cabin and maybe they’re not. My sister tells me she heard a car stop out on the road a couple of hours ago, but she didn’t get out of bed to see who it might be. It was raining hard then, and as you aviators say, the visibility was poor. She didn’t hear anybody walk up the drive past the house, though.”


“They could have cut round the house and climbed the hill from a point farther up or down the valley—that is, if they were trying to establish an alibi—and if we find them at home, after all,” suggested Bill.

“Then,” said Osceola, who was bringing up the rear, “those guys had a good long way to hoof it.”

“How come?”

“Swamps. Down at the foot of this meadow, and as far as you can see along the valley.”

“That’s right,” agreed Mr. Davis. “Any other way but this would add at least three miles to their hike. That broad, sluggish stream ahead of us runs the full length of the swamp and only partly drains it. The bridge at the end of this path is the only way across.”

“Is that the house, half way up the hillside in that grove of trees and underbrush?” inquired Osceola.


“You’ve got good eyes to spot it at this time o’ day,” said their guide. “No—that house belongs to a man named Kennedy, although it is empty at present. Kolinski’s cabin is higher up and over to the left.”

Still in single file they passed onto a corduroy trail through the swamp and over the bridge. On the farther side, the ground rose steeply. A few yards beyond they came to a fork in the path.

“Take the left to Kolinski’s—” announced Mr. Davis. He stopped and turned to the lads. “My plan is to take this right hand path to Kennedy’s and up through the woods. In that way we can make a half circle so as to come down on Kolinski’s place from above and be under cover the whole way. We’ll have broad daylight to contend with by the time we get there. If we go direct, anybody in the house can see us pretty well the whole distance up the hill. What do you say?”

“I think that’s a first rate idea,” said Bill.


“The only thing to do,” agreed Osceola. “Surprise is half the battle on a job like this. If you two don’t mind, I’ll scout on ahead. Wait in the woods a hundred yards above Kolinski’s for me. I want to take a look-see, but you palefaces make too much noise going through underbrush!”

With a low chuckle, he darted up the path at a sharp trot and disappeared among the alders like a wraith in the half-light and quite as silently.

“That pace would kill me in fifty yards, going up hill,” admitted Mr. Davis, as they trudged in the direction Osceola had taken. “Is your friend really an Indian, Mr. Bolton? He looks no darker to me than a well tanned Spaniard or South American.”


“Oh, he’s a real live redskin, all right. But a great many of them aren’t noticeably different in coloring from a lot of us so-called Americans, you know. Osceola was born to the chieftainship of his clan. Last year, although only twenty, he was unanimously elected the Great Sachem of the entire Seminole Nation. He is one of the finest fellows I’ve ever met. I only wish I had half his talents or knowledge. He’s a senior at Carlisle this year, although he’s not going back. His fiancee, the girl who’s been kidnapped, is Chieftainess of another clan of the Seminoles. She is a college graduate, by the way, and a most charming person.”

“Well, you certainly have interesting friends—and you yourself have done more interesting things than most men meet up with in a lifetime,” contended Mr. Davis. “How old are you, may I ask?”

“Seventeen on the second of this month.”

“You don’t say! Remarkable—my word, when I was your age, I was still tied to apron-strings, and stayed tied to them most of my life. Now, that house just ahead is Kennedy’s. The path ends here. We’ll take to the woods, and I’ll do my best not to disgrace myself in the underbrush!”


Bill soon realized that Mr. Davis was a trained woodsman. Not a twig cracked as they pushed their way up the steep hill through a thick growth of young trees and bushes that in places became a veritable jungle.

It was bright daylight when they swung round to the left and came down the hill again to a shallow ravine some distance above the Kolinski cabin. As the two dropped down on the short grass, hot and nearly winded, Osceola slid from behind a tree trunk.

“Any luck?” whispered Bill.

“No,” replied the Seminole gloomily. “We’ve had this hike for nothing. There’s nobody in the cabin.”


Chapter VII

“Well, that certainly is disappointing.” Mr. Davis wiped the perspiration from his brow. “I suppose you made absolutely sure?”

Osceola nodded. “A window was open in one of the bedrooms. I went in and went through all four rooms and the cellar. What’s more, when they left, they took their clothes and papers with them. Not a sign of either in the house. I don’t think they’ve been up here since early yesterday evening.”

Mr. Davis looked surprised. “How can you place the time?”


“In several ways. If they had taken a lot of stuff down the hill in daylight, the chances are that you or your sister would have seen them. We know that Kolinski and probably his man as well were in New Canaan at two this morning, and that is thirty-five miles from here. Though there’s plenty of dust in that house, I saw no particles of mud either on the mat inside the door or on the floors.”

“So we’re just about where we were before we started on this wildgoose chase,” proclaimed Bill wearily.

“Hardly that, Bill,” protested Davis. “We’ve got one more bet in this neck of the woods.”

“What?” Bill and Osceola stared at him. Mr. Davis got to his feet.

“Come along. We’ve got to go down to the club house. I’ll tell you about it as we go.”

They had passed Kolinski’s cabin, a one-storied house solidly built of native stone, and struck off down the path toward the bridge before Davis spoke again.


“I don’t want to raise false hopes,” he said, “and this hunch may come to a dead end, too. But here it is for what it’s worth. I was trying to remember if I had ever heard the couple’s name, but I’m sure I haven’t. Half a mile up the valley road from my quarters you come to an abandoned mill on the other side of the highway. The place has an old wheel and stands beside a stream that rushes down a gorge in the hillside. You can see from here that the hill opposite is much higher and steeper than this one. The only path up there is the trail that starts at the mill and runs along the side of the gorge. The stream is the outlet for a small lake up there on the plateau and drops down the gorge in a series of very beautiful falls. The lake and the woods are off the Heartfield’s Club property. They belong to an estate with a good-sized house on it, about half a mile beyond the falls. There’s a sort of path round the lake, I believe, that joins a path leading up to the house from the farther shore. I haven’t been up there for years, but I distinctly remember the woods round the lake were swampy. However, when the last owner bought it, he put a high wire deer fence around his land to prevent trespassing. This club was in full swing then, so you can hardly blame him. But no one has lived there for the last few years. I heard over in Sherman that the whole place, house, land, lake and everything, had been bought by a foreign couple who had moved in. Timkins, in New Milford, brought their furniture over there from the railroad, and there was an awful lot of it, he said. Most of the stuff was packed in big cases and enormously heavy. You see,” he said, as they reached the bridge, “I’m trying to give you every bit of information I can about that place beyond the falls, and the reason is this: several times during the last three weeks, I have seen both Kolinski and his man going up and coming down that path by the mill. Either they had been enjoying the beauty of the falls, which I doubt, or—they’d been visiting the owners of that estate!”


“Humph!” grunted Bill. “I suppose there’s a road up on the top of the hill?”

“Yes, a dirt road that passes the house and joins the highway some miles farther on after it leaves this valley.”


They walked on in silence toward the club house, each of the three busily formulating plans.

“I’ll tell you what,” Bill said suddenly as they reached his car. “Osceola and I will go up to this place you’ve been talking about, and we’ll go by the path near the mill. You wait here for the police, if you don’t mind, Mr. Davis, and pilot them round by road. If these rascals really have Deborah up there, they’re likely to have sentries posted near the house, so advise Mr. Dixon and the police to leave their cars some distance down the road. If you men don’t come across us by that time, surround the house and rush it. Because,” he added, with a grimace, “We’ll probably be needing your help rather badly.”


“But hadn’t you better wait for the police yourselves?” Davis looked worried.

“And have those guys cart Deb off through the woods while the bunch of us come up to the house from the road? No indeed,” Osceola answered vigorously. “Bill can do as he likes, but I’m going up by the mill path. They won’t be expecting visitors from this side.”

“I’m going with you, Osceola,” said Bill. “Thanks a lot for all you’ve done and are doing for us, Mr. Davis. The gang from Hartford ought to be here within the hour.”

Osceola stepped forward. “Sorry I spoke abruptly, Mr. Davis. I must apologize—”

“Don’t mention it, my boy,” Mr. Davis cut in. “No hard feelings—I understand your anxiety. Run along now and I’ll take care of the police when they arrive.”


The boys hurried off down the rutty road toward Route 136. Half a mile along the highway they came to a bridge across a bubbling stream. Above the road on their left the ruins of the mill pointed broken rafters toward a cloudless sky. On the water side, bearded by the spray from the falls, was the ancient wheel that indicated the industry of bygone days, when the farmers brought their grain to be ground.

“There’s the trail!” Osceola pointed to an overgrown path that led up the mountainside just beyond the mill, and with Bill at his heels, he darted up and under the overhanging arch of trees.

The beauty of the deep gorge, the milky water churning down the steep background of jet black rocks and green ferns, the series of waterfalls, blown in the breeze like filmy veils,—all were lost upon Bill and Osceola. With the thought of pretty Deborah a prisoner in the hands of ruffians, they concentrated upon two things only: to reach the house beyond the falls as quickly as possible, and to do so without attracting attention of watchers who might be on the lookout.


Osceola stopped shortly before they reached the top, and motioning caution, darted into the woods away from the stream. Then he paralleled the path upwards again for a hundred yards or so with Bill directly behind him. All at once, he dropped to the ground, Bill followed suit, and the two crawled over to a fallen log and peered over it.

Slightly ahead, and perhaps fifty yards to their left, was the lake Mr. Davis had described, sending its overflow down the gulley in a silver sheet of sparkling water. Between them and the waterfall, the path was bisected by a high gate in a fence of heavy wire mesh, whose top was at least ten feet above the ground. This ran in both directions, blocking intrusion along the mountain top. They could see that it ran even along the dam at the mouth of the lake, while on their side of the path it disappeared in the thick growth of bushes and trees.


But their whole interest was centered upon the man who lay flat on the ground behind the gate. They could see him plainly. He was watching the path, hidden from it by a tree trunk, and at his side lay a long-barrelled rifle.

“Deborah,” said Osceola in his normal tones, for the noise of the falls was almost deafening, “is over in that house behind the lake. I’d stake my life on it. Shall I pot this guy?”

Bill shook his head. “Better not—they might hear the shot at the house, you know. The buzzard deserves death, if he’s a kidnapper, and I suppose he is—but we’ll let the police settle with him.”

“Yeah, if they get him. Well, let’s be going. I wish I’d brought a tomahawk with me!”


Having uttered this altruistic thought, Osceola slithered off through the undergrowth very much in the same manner that a snake travels through long grass, and Bill, perforce, went after him. Presently the young Indian Chief stood up. The gate in the fence and its sentry were no longer in sight. Both lads climbed the high wire and dropped inside to the ground. Osceola took the lead again, and set off through the trees at a smart trot. When it came to woods-craft, Bill knew this young Seminole to be without a peer. He never argued with Osceola in the woods, but was content to do as his friend directed, for he knew that no white man could approximate the American Indian’s native cunning in the forest.

As they progressed the ground became hummocky, and soon developed into a swamp, but this did not cut the speed of the lads in the slightest. They leapt from tuft to tuft of the coarse grass clumps with the agility of mountain goats, and crossed the evil smelling place without wetting a foot.


Although he could not see it, Bill knew that the lake lay somewhere to their left. When Osceola struck off obliquely in that direction, he guessed that they had passed beyond it. And he soon saw that he was right. A few yards farther on the trees ended in a belt of thick and overgrown shrubbery. Just beyond, an unkempt lawn surrounded a hideously ugly house of the cupola-and-mansard-roof variety, painted bright yellow.

“Gosh!” muttered Bill to his guide, “if I lived in that dump, I’d perish of colic!”

Osceola gave him a savage look. “If you don’t keep quiet, we’ll both die with several ounces of lead in our hides! Shut up, now, and turn your mind to what I taught you down in Florida about crossing open spaces on your belly. I’ll go first.”


He dropped prone and wriggled through the grass to a large bush without a sound and at an amazing rate of speed. Bill then did likewise, and was soon at his friend’s side. Their next move was to a belt of rhododendrons which grew close to the yellow house, and in great profusion. Near them was an open window. Bill went to one side, Osceola to the other. They stood up and looked in.

Before them was evidently the living room of the house. At the far end, four men and a woman were seated about a small table, breaking their fast. On a couch across from the window, lay Deborah. She was neither bound nor gagged; she seemed to be asleep.

Bill’s eyes sought Osceola’s. The Chief nodded.

With the ease of the trained athlete, first Bill, then the Seminole, lifted himself swiftly to the window sill and sprang into the room.


Chapter VIII

The woman at the breakfast table was the first in the room to see Bill and Osceola spring through the open window. She screamed, the four men jumped to their feet, sending chairs crashing backward to the floor, the table rocking—and pandemonium broke loose.

Gripping their rifles by the barrels and swinging them like clubs, the lads charged the surprised kidnappers, who pulled revolvers and began shooting almost immediately. But after the first few shots, attackers and attacked became involved in a scrimmage so close and so heated that firing was impossible. Bill, wielding his rifle like a singlestick, managed to ward off the clubbing revolvers of his assailants, but Osceola, dropping his gun, went at them like a wild man, using fists alone.


In the midst of the fracas, a man sprang onto Bill’s back. By use of a jiu jitsu trick he catapulted his attacker over his head and on to the breakfast table which collapsed, sending broken china and glass in every direction. Osceola staggered and fell to the floor under the blow from a revolver butt, and Kolinski pressed the muzzle against the stunned Seminole’s temple. Like a streak of light, Bill jerked his automatic from its holster and the Pole went over backward with a bullet through his shoulder. Then Bill saw the woman, who still stood behind the debris of the breakfast table, pick up a plate and sail it through the air at him. He tried to duck, but was again held fast from behind. A burning pain seared his eyeballs and he, too, dropped insensible to the floor.


Bill awoke, gasping and sputtering, his head and shoulders drenched in water. His head was splitting, and the darkness round about him was shot with a myriad of dancing lights.

“Give the Indian another bucketful,” wheezed a cracked voice from the gloom.

Bill heard Osceola’s characteristic grunt as the water splashed over him. His mind began to clear, and soon he realized that he was bound hand and foot and that his eyes were bandaged. Again he heard the unmistakable wheeze in the cracked voice, and this time the high-pitched tones were full of sarcasm.

“And all this comes from entering where angels fear to tread!” A man’s voice, surely, thought Bill, but an old man—


The unseen speaker chuckled and went on with his monologue. “Although we have not met before, my young friends, I have climbed these many stairs to bid you goodbye. It pains me to send you off in this abrupt fashion,” again he chuckled, “but I cannot take you with me—and you are probably familiar with the adage that dead men tell no tales. You will be glad to hear that the young lady, Miss Deborah Lightfoot, will not mind her passing on to Happy Hunting Grounds quite as much as you two will. She was given a hypodermic in the car on the way up here, and is, to all intents and purposes, asleep.”

“But—surely you don’t mean to kill an innocent girl!” raged Bill.

“Ha-ha!” tittered the old man. “So that gets you on the raw, eh? What says the bereaved husband-to-be?”

“Sachems of the Seminole Nation do not waste their words on buzzards.”


“Thank you, young man,” wheezed the voice. “It is interesting to learn at first hand that the American Indian is as stoical in undergoing mental torture as in burning at the stake! But to return to your girl-friend on the floor over there—Miss Lightfoot made two bad mistakes. She had the misfortune to get a good look at one of my associates when he was searching for a certain emblem. And in the car, she ripped off my mask, and she saw me! Against my wishes, I must send her away with you, or else certain plans of mine would be jeopardized.”

“Well, Osceola, old man,” said Bill, ignoring their tormentor. “Sorry I got you into this, and sorrier still we both have to listen to this pitiful drivel. Unless he stops his cackle soon, I’ll be forced to take a nap in self-defense.”

“So long, Bill, old sport,” Osceola replied in his deep, grave voice. “Happy hunting—and sweet dreams!”


“Very pretty, very pretty indeed, young gentlemen. So sorry to bore you longer. You will be interested to know that my lookout on the hill tells me the police have just left Heartfield’s in their cars. They should reach here in about fifteen minutes. But you must not become too impatient. You see, I have a surprise for you and for them. In slightly over a quarter of an hour, this house and those in it will go shooting skywards—in other words, blow up. Good-bye again,—I must fly now, and I’m sure my news will help you keep your courage to the very end.”

Bill heard footsteps creaking on bare boards, then a door slammed. He turned at once to his friend.

“How are you tied?”

“Roped—wrists behind my back—and ankles. Blindfolded, too.”

“Same here. Wriggle over and I’ll get my hands on the knots.”

“Coming—but rip off this bandage first, and I’ll do the same for you. Then I can use my teeth on your wrist bonds—it’ll be easier and quicker that way.”


Bill heard Osceola slither across the floor and the bandage was ripped from his head. He in turn pulled off the young Seminole’s bandage and while his friend’s sharp teeth were working on the knotted ropes that bound his wrists, Bill sat up and took in their surroundings.

He saw that they were in a small room, empty of furniture. There were two windows in each of the four walls of the room. A door cut off one corner, and near it, Deborah lay on the floor, deep in her drugged sleep.

“I’ll bet we’re in the cupola,” said Bill, his eyes on the girl. “If I’m right, it’s a four-story drop to the ground, and that door looks too strong for us to bash in before the explosion.”

Osceola grunted, then spat copiously. Bill found that his wrists were free, and swinging round, he began to work on the rope which bound his friend.

“Ugh,” uttered the Seminole in disgust, “my mouth is full of hemp. I always did hate the taste of it.”


“Well, what I want to know is how we’re going to get out of here—and with Deborah?”

“I can’t tell you. Wait till we get our legs free. Maybe the outlook from the windows will give us an idea.”

“And maybe it won’t,” snorted Bill, working with feverish haste on the tight knots. “You know, I believe that old devil hoped we’d get loose.”

“How come?” Osceola, his hands free at last, was tearing at the rope around his ankles.

“Wants us to get free of these things—then find out there’s no way down short of jumping—hello!” He cocked his head, “somebody’s idling an airplane engine!”

“So that’s what the old buzzard meant when he said he’d have to fly! The bunch are making their getaway, eh?”

“Guess so. Well, I’m free—how about you?”



Both lads sprang to their feet, feeling very stiff and dizzy, and hobbled to a window. They saw that the cupola raised its ugly head on the very center of the slate roof. The roof looked almost flat, but in reality sloped slightly down to rusty tin gutters at its eaves. A glance to the sides showed that the house boasted two yellow brick chimneys. Directly in front of the old mansion, a large field spread out for a quarter of a mile toward the highway. On the field a large monoplane was taxying into the wind, preparatory to the take-off. “Fokker Universal,” muttered Bill.

“I wish we had her up here,” said the young Chief. “We’re wasting time, Bill. We can’t have more than five or six minutes left. Give me a hand with Deborah. We’ll get her out of this window and onto the roof.”

“And then what? There isn’t a tree near the house. If we had a rope—”


“I’ve got it! There must be rainpipes down from the gutters. We’ll go down by one of those.”

“You mean, the leader will go down with you! Those gutters are old and rusty and full of holes. The leaders are sure to be in as bad or worse shape. It would be suicide to try it, especially with one of us carrying Deborah’s weight.”

“Great grief, Bill! What can we do? Think of Deborah—blown to pieces—”

“Hey, hey—get a grip on yourself. Snap out of it and let me think.”

“Maybe the door isn’t locked, after all—” Osceola snatched at this desperate thought—

“Try it if you like. But I heard that old wretch or one of his men slam the bolt and so did you.”

Osceola ran to the door and tried the handle, but without success. Then he backed off and flung the full force of his weight against it. The sturdy oak hardly creaked.


“Don’t let the thought of Deb make you lose your nerve, man,” said Bill, still looking out of the window.

Osceola’s face grew grim. He walked back to Bill and grasped his hand. “Thanks, old pal. And goodbye. I’m going to Deborah now. At least, we can die together!”


Chapter IX

“Here—just a minute—” cried Bill, “yes, by Jove! I believe we can do it!”

Osceola turned back. “Not that chimney you’re staring at! It’s got funnels at the top. We—”

“No—not the chimney, guy! The lightning rod! I forgot these oldtime houses had them. Quick now, with Deborah! I’ll go first. You pass her out to me.”

He leapt through the open window onto the slates a few feet below. Almost immediately, Osceola lifted Deborah’s limp body over the sill, where Bill caught her in his arms and hurried with his sagging burden toward a corner of the roof. There he put down the unconscious girl and lying flat, peered over the edge of the rotting gutter.


Osceola dropped beside him. “The rod looks strong enough, but do you think those rusty iron stanchions will stand the strain?”

“Our weight may pull a few loose, but that won’t bring the rod down. I just wanted to be sure there wasn’t any break—that it ran all the way to the ground.” He jumped to his feet. “Give me a hand with Deb.”

“But I’ll—”

“No, you won’t. I was trained to this at the Academy. Pick her up and hang her on my shoulders—not that way—head one side and legs t’other, so her body drapes round my neck. That’s it. Now rip off your belt and lash her wrists to her ankles. She mustn’t slip and I’ll have to use both hands on the rod. Got it fast? Fine. Will you go first?”

“No—you—I’ll help you over the edge. And Bill—we’ve only a minute or two left—”


With Deborah’s dead weight balanced on his shoulders and the base of his neck, Bill got down on his knees and keeping firm hold of the lightning rod that ran from the chimney across the roof on raised iron stanchions, went gingerly backwards over the creaking gutter. Then slowly, hand over hand he let himself and his burden down the rod. Notwithstanding his confident words to Osceola, he was fearful of pulling loose the staples, that at intervals of three or four feet secured the rod to the side of the house. He was obliged to use his hands as his sole means of support. If he pulled outward, pressing the rubber soles of his sneakers against the siding, the chances were the rotten wood holding the staples would give. For the same reason, he refrained from planting his feet on the stanchions themselves, as he let himself down.

The strain of the double weight was fearful. His shoulder muscles and biceps felt as though they were at the cracking point. And the corrugated rod lacerated the palms of his hands until they were bleeding badly.


He was descending the side of the house that looked over the field and the road. Suddenly he heard a shout from below, and the answering hail from Osceola just above his head told him that the police were arriving.

“Get back! Get back—all of you!” yelled the chief. “There’s a bomb in the house—likely to explode any time now!”

Bill’s right hand slipped. For an instant he thought he was gone but he managed to gain a hold with his lacerated left. Deborah hung like a millstone about his neck. As he felt for the rod with his toes, her legs and thighs slipped over his right shoulder, pinning that arm to his side, and bringing the full weight of her body on the left side of his neck and head. Bill found himself in the terrible predicament of being totally unable to move—either upward or down. Searing pain shot through his left hand—his head reeled. In one more second he must drop—


“Let go, lad—” called Mr. Dixon’s voice from below. “You’re almost down.”

Strong arms caught him about the knees. He released his grip, as they let him down. Then Deborah’s now unbearable weight was taken from his shoulders. Somebody far away cried—“Good Lord! the boy’s hands are in ribbons!” And Bill, for the first time in his life, fainted.

* * * * * * * *

Bang! Crash!

He felt himself hurtling through space to light head first on something fairly soft, but with a jar that almost loosened his front teeth.

“Don’t kick—that’s my face—or was,” growled a deep voice.

Bill was pushed violently to one side. He opened his eyes and sat up, feeling as though he had been pounded with a sledge-hammer.

“The other way—” said the same deep voice. “The wind of the thing sent us heels over teakettle.”


Bill turned his head slowly and painfully. Beside him sat a large and husky individual in the dark uniform of the Connecticut State Police. Possibly two hundred yards away, a huge mass of debris was burning. Over it hung a heavy cloud of jet black smoke.

“Yes, that’s the house, or what’s left of it,” explained the policeman. “Lucky we weren’t nearer. Talk about your fireworks! Say, how are you feelin’, kid?”

“Kinda woozy, thanks.”

“Don’t mention it—”

“What do you mean?”

“Oh, nuthin’—except that when you and I went up in the air, you dove headfirst into me stomach—and it sure does feel lousy!”

“Gee, that’s too bad—” Bill sympathized. “I certainly hope I didn’t dent your pretty belt buckle with my teeth—or what’s left of them! You were toting me, I take it?”

“Yeah. I was runnin’ wid you over my shoulder when the blast come.”


“And—er—woke me up.”

“You said it. I’ll bet that head o’ yourn rammed into me belt buckle a good eight inches! The inside o’ me backbone feels black an’ blue.”

They got to their feet. Bill’s head, though aching, was now perfectly clear. He saw that they stood in the knee-high grass of the field. Two cars were approaching along the drive. Several groups of men were spread out over the field. He recognized Osceola, carrying Deborah in his arms. Beside him walked Mr. Dixon. They were making for the motor cars.

A familiar voice hailed Bill, and looking around, he saw Mr. Davis behind him.

“Well, that was a very pretty tumble you and the sergeant took a while ago,” he said, his eyes twinkling.

“It kind of woke me up,” said Bill, “but our friend here says he feels like the break-up of a heavy winter.”


“Square in the belly,” complained the policeman. He began to repeat the story of his bruised backbone, when Mr. Davis cut in on him.

“Goodness, Bolton, you’re covered with blood!”

“I am? Oh, it’s my hands—” Bill held out his torn palms.

Mr. Davis winced. “Great Scott! No wonder you passed out. How you ever managed to hold on—But here we stand talking. Come on over to the police car. They’ve got a first aid kit—we don’t want to let you in for blood poisoning.”

With the bleating sergeant bringing up the rear, he hurried Bill over the field to the car, where he pulled out a large tin case and laid it on the grass. Then he went to work on Bill’s hands with the deftness of a surgeon.

“Now then,” he said after a while, “that will hold you till you’re home and can get a doctor. This is only a makeshift.”


Bill stared at his bandaged hands. “Seems to me, Mr. Davis, you’ve made a mighty neat job of it. Looks like a full-fledged doctor’s work.”

“Oh, I had two years at medical school, when I was a youngster,” Davis said, as he closed the kit and replaced it in the car. “Couldn’t stand that racket longer, though, and went into business instead.”

“Well, I’m much obliged to you. Where do we go from here, now that the old gink has flew the coop and blown his house to smithereens?”

“So you saw the leader of the gang?”

“No. Only heard his voice. But you can take it from me, when it comes to being a real nasty customer, that guy wins hands down!”


Davis nodded. “I can quite believe it. You must tell us about it later. Hop in the car there, lean back and close your eyes. You look pretty rocky, and no wonder. I’ll have a chat with Dixon and find out what the plans are.”

Bill looked up a few minutes later as the car door opened, and saw that Davis had reappeared, with a tall man in the uniform of a police officer.

“Captain Simmonds, Mr. Bolton,” said Davis, as they took seats beside him.

“Glad to know you, Captain Simmonds,” Bill said affably, as the policeman in the driver’s seat threw the car into gear. “Sorry I can’t shake hands. Where do we go from here?”

“Back to Heartfield’s, first, Mr. Bolton. I want Mr. Davis, who, as you know, is something of a physician to take a look at Miss Lightfoot. Chief Osceola says she’s been drugged. They are in the car ahead with Mr. Dixon. Believe me, Mr. Bolton, when I say that I’ve never seen a finer piece of sheer grit and nerve than the way you brought the young lady down that rusty lightning rod.”


Bill shook his head. “We really ought to have waited for you chaps before we tackled that bunch in the house. But with Deb lying there on the lounge in plain sight, it seemed the only thing to do.”

“Suppose,” suggested Mr. Davis, “that you tell us about it—that is, if you feel able to do so now.”

“You see,” added Captain Simmonds, “except that we saw you shinning down the lightning rod, and that we got Chief Osceola’s warning just in time to prevent us breaking into the house, we really have no information as to what happened. The crowd of us arrived only in time to scamper off before the whole shebang blew up.”

“I realize that,” said Bill. Except for the burning pain in his hands and a certain stiffness in his arms and shoulder muscles, he was feeling pretty much himself again. “I’m quite able to talk about it now, and I’d like to. The sooner we get started after that old devil and put him behind the bars for keeps, the happier yours truly will be!”


“Let’s have it from the time you and the young Indian Chief left Heartfield’s,” suggested the Police Captain.

Bill told them the story in detail as the car bumped over the rutty road and his listeners sat silent, taking in every word.

“Jehosophat!” exploded Mr. Davis, when he had finished. “I’ve read about some of your other experiences, Bolton, but that is certainly one exciting tale! The old man with the wheezy voice is a maniac, of course, but people of that type can be exceedingly clever. In some ways, they often appear absolutely normal, too. That old bird, if he is really an old man, as you guessed from his voice, may appear to be a solid and possibly useful citizen, to the majority of his friends and associates. But he’s cracked, just the same—mad as a March hare on one subject—I’ll stake my oath on it!”


“And when we know what that one thing is,” chimed in Captain Simmonds, “We’ll be a long way ahead in solving this kidnapping. So he got away in a big Fokker! There aren’t so many of those busses around. You’d recognize his voice again, of course, Mr. Bolton?”

“I’ll never be able to forget it, Captain.”

“No, I guess not. Miss Lightfoot seems to be the only person we can lay our hands on who has seen his face, and she is under the influence of a drug! My men will search the ruins of that house. It’s unlikely, though, that they’ll find any clue in what’s left of it, and the ruins will be too hot for a couple of days, unless we have rain.”

“I wouldn’t pin too much hope on Miss Lightfoot, either,” said Mr. Davis. “It’s quite possible that she is suffering from shock, as well as having been drugged.”

“You mean,” said Bill, “that after the effects of the drug wear off, she may still be unconscious?”


“It is possible. On the other hand, the drug, plus what she went through before it was administered may make it impossible to question her without jeopardizing the poor girl’s reason.”

Captain Simmonds frowned. “That is serious,” he admitted. “How long will it be before we can get a description of this man from her, Mr. Davis?”

“Nobody can predict that, Captain. First, the effects of the drug must either be counteracted or it must wear off. Then it depends entirely upon the condition of the young lady herself. Please don’t think me a pessimist, but my advice is to follow any other clues you may have, and not count on Miss Lightfoot’s help at all. I’ve known cases where the patient was allowed to talk to no one for weeks.”


“My word,” said Bill. “Poor Deborah! And that is a pleasant prospect for us. I reckon, after what you’ve done to help us, Mr. Davis, that the Captain won’t mind my telling you that the only clue we have are the winged cartwheels, the numbered emblems of this organization we are up against. And so far, Mr. Davis, those silver dollars have brought us nothing but trouble.”


Chapter X

The long shadows of late afternoon cut intricate figures on the Bolton’s lawn. Bill, from his chair on the porch, let the book he had been reading slip to the floor. He watched sunlight and shadow dance on a background of multi-colored green, for a gentle breeze had set the treetops stirring. As an open car, a familiar figure at the wheel, rolled up the driveway he sauntered over to the top of the steps.

“Hello there, Mr. Davis! Glad to see you.” He waved a bandaged hand, as the car drew up and stopped.


Mr. Davis got out and walked up the steps. He was no longer the rather rough looking figure of the morning, but was now immaculate in gray flannels and a spick and span panama.

“Glad to see you, Bolton,” he smiled pleasantly, and Bill was again impressed by the keen intelligence in this gray-haired man’s eyes. “This is a rather unexpected pleasure. I really did not expect to be in New Canaan this afternoon.”

Bill pointed to chairs and they sat down. “I’ve been trying to read, but it’s a nuisance turning the pages with these hands!”

“How are they coming along?”

“Nicely, thanks. Our local medico had a look at them when we got back from Heartfield’s this morning. He says that the salve you used must be wonderful stuff—he’d never seen anything heal so quickly.”


Mr. Davis smiled, and pulling out his briar pipe, filled and lighted it. “By tomorrow you’ll be able to discard the bandages,” he observed. “Although you will have to go easy on the hands themselves for a couple of days. I came across that salve in the Near East some years ago. Some day, when I can snaffle a few weeks off the job, I’ll put the ointment on the market, and let it make my everlasting fortune.” Bill looked surprised.

“But I thought—”

“That old Davis was taking a cheap vacation, rent free! That is the story I pass out just now, Mr. Secret Service Operative Bolton! But—and I’m rather sorry to confess it—the story, though plausible, is untrue.”

“And what,” Bill spoke quietly, watching his visitor through half-shut lids, “gives you the impression that I am a secret service operative, Mr. Davis?”

“Perhaps you’d like to look at this.” Mr. Davis took a small leather case from his breast pocket and snapped back the flap, disclosing a green card. He held it so Bill could read it.

“Suffering cats! So you’re Ashton Sanborn—head of—”


“Quite so. But to you and everyone else while we are on this case of the winged cartwheels, just plain ‘Mr. Davis’, if you please.” He laughed quietly at the look of genuine amazement on Bill’s face. “You see, one is never sure who may be listening, and I am fairly certain that the gentry we are dealing with have not got onto Mr. Davis yet!”

A telegraph messenger pedalled up the drive, sprang off his bicycle and ran up the steps to Bill.

“Wire for you, Mr. Bolton,” he said, handing him a yellow envelope. “The manager says he wrote out the message just as it came in, but he can’t make head nor tail of it—he—”

Bill ripped open the flap with his finger tips, drew forth the telegraph form and saw typewritten below his address a single line of words in an unknown language.


“Tell the manager,” he replied, “that the message is really for Chief Osceola and that it is written in the Seminole language. Anything to pay?”

“No, sir.”

“Well, stick your fist into this pocket of my coat and help yourself to a quarter.”

“Thanks, Mr. Bolton.” The boy grinned delightedly as he transferred the money to his own pocket. Then he ran down the steps, jumped on his wheel, and sped down the drive.

Bill looked at the secret service man and smiled. “No need to tell the manager all we know, Mister—er—Davis,” he said. “And especially when I really don’t know anything. Of course, the message is in code and although it was sent from New York City, I have a sneaking idea that it originated in Washington, D. C.”


The secret service man nodded. “You’re a good guesser, Bolton. Washington is taking no chances either. The code is a double interchange of letters. Simple enough when you know it and easy to remember. Hand it over. I’ll explain as I translate.” He laid the paper on his knee and took out a pencil.

“So you see,” he continued, after deciphering the code, “it reads: ‘Take your orders from Ashton Sanborn V8LR.’”

“V8 being my own number in the service,” said Bill, “and the initials those of the big boss. I want to add that I’m tickled to death to be working under you, Mr. Davis. All the world knows the big things you’ve put over. And just to think that when you were piloting Osceola and me up to Kolinski’s shack this morning, you probably knew a lot more than we did about the winged cartwheels!”

Mr. Davis made a gesture of dissent. “That’s where you’re wrong, Bolton. Until you told the story to Captain Simmonds and me in the car, I’d never heard of the emblems nor of the organization they represent.”


“But surely you—I mean, it is rather cheeky of me to ask questions, but if you knew nothing about the cartwheel gang, how did you happen to be in that out-of-the-way place?”

“It’s simple enough, Bill—I’m going to call you Bill. I’m old enough to be your father, and we’ll probably get pretty well acquainted before this case goes into the files completed.”

“Bill is what I like my friends to call me, Mr. Davis.”


“Thanks. Well, the truth of the matter is that I was in Heartfield’s to keep an eye on Kolinski. For some time, a big gang with headquarters in New York City has been doing a land-office business smuggling cocaine and other drugs into this country from Europe. The police came to a dead end on the case and that brought me into it. Kolinski, who is known to have been a dope pedlar in a small way, suddenly blossomed out with a big car and plenty of money. I had enough on that Pole before he took the house at Heartfield’s to put him behind bars for the remainder of his life. Instead, I followed him up there, because, after considering a number of things—I’ll tell you about them sometime—I had the hunch that he’d become a member of this big dope running gang.”

“Have you found out much about it?”

Mr. Davis tamped the glowing tobacco in his pipe with the flat end of a pencil. “Mighty little—nothing important, anyway. Kolinski has no flies on him, he’s a slick article. Even though he made one or two slips in the past, he seems to have been walking the straight and narrow since he joined this racket; only of course I’m certain he’s been doing nothing of the kind!”

“Then you think this silver cartwheel business is nothing more than a dope smuggling ring?”


“I’m not so sure. However, our Department has been advised from France that large quantities of cocaine are being shipped to the United States. The French tracked down and located two of these shipments before they left Europe. The stuff was in small packets and had been placed in boxes containing truffles.”

“But surely,” argued Bill, “those truffles were addressed to someone in this country.”

“Right, they were. But those addresses led us nowhere. Upon investigation they proved to be two untenanted houses in New York City. The owners are perfectly respectable people. In both cases, the houses had been rented through agents and rent paid in advance for six months.”

“But how about the people who rented them?”


“They have never been seen. The business with the real estate firms was carried on entirely by correspondence. Inasmuch as postal orders covering the rent were sent by mail, references were not required. You must understand that because of the two shipments held up and confiscated by the French government, we naturally suppose that more of the stuff is being sent over. But we have no actual proof. On the other hand, when we find that several men like Kolinski, who are known to be small fry in this dope racket, suddenly desert their old haunts and become affluent without any visible means of support, we put two and two together. However, we have not been able to trace the source of supply further than I have already told you, nor have we been able to discover their method of distribution.”

“Has it occurred to you that it may be only a sideline of some much bigger racket?” Bill suggested diffidently. “It just doesn’t seem reasonable that that old geezer with the cracked voice would have got so stirred up if we’d merely horned in on a dope ring. The man talked like a lunatic, and as if we were spoiling some very definite object he had in view.”


“That, Bill, is exactly what I decided when I heard your story. Of course I had already disclosed my real identity to Captain Simmonds, and as soon as you left for New Canaan, we had a chat and I got Washington on the wire. I had known for a week or so that you’d been taken on by the Department, and so I requested your services on the job. The people down there thought it a good idea. They’ve given us free rein to handle this matter as we may see fit—and so here I am!”

“And I,” said Bill, “am very much honored that you should want me to help you.”

Mr. Davis smiled. “I think the regard is mutual, Bill, and I’m sure we’ll get on splendidly together. By the way, I suppose your Seminole friend is over at the Dixons’? I phoned their physician before leaving Heartfield’s and he said Miss Lightfoot was conscious now, but could not be spoken to until about eight.”


“Yes, I know. Osceola is with her, of course, and until you drove up here I’d nothing to do except think—and watch the shadows on the lawn. He’ll be coming back here for chow soon. We dine at seven. You’ll stop with us, of course?”

“Thanks very much, I’ll be glad to. And you will be interested to hear that I’ve been authorized to secure Chief Osceola’s services on this case. I’ve an idea he’ll prove a valuable man.”

“He sure will!” Bill replied enthusiastically, “—and after what these cartwheel fellows have done to Deborah, there’d be no keeping him out of it anyway.”

Mr. Davis looked grave. “That young lady holds the most important clue we have.”

“Yes,” said Bill. “Gosh, I can hardly wait till eight o’clock!”


Chapter XI

Bill, Osceola and Mr. Davis walked across the lawn to the Dixon house a few minutes after eight that evening. Mr. Dixon greeted them at the door.

“Come in, come in,” he said genially, shaking hands with Davis and nodding to the lads. “Deborah, I’m glad to say, is much better. She is just finished with her supper. We can go up in a moment or two.”

“I’m sorry to intrude at this time, Mr. Dixon,” apologized the secret service man. “Chief Osceola tells me that your maids departed, bag and baggage, this morning, to further complicate matters, and I should think your household must be very much upset.”


“Dorothy,” pronounced her father, “is a mighty good little housekeeper. She’s been running the place in great shape, with the help of a girl we got in from the village. You haven’t met my daughter yet, have you, Mr. Davis?”

“No, but I’ve heard of her flying exploits. She’s by way of being quite a detective, too, isn’t she?”

“Yes, indeed. She saved me and my bank a heap of trouble earlier this summer,” said her father proudly. “Dorothy—” he called, “come here for a moment, please.”


“What is it, Daddy?” A door at the back of the hall burst open and Dorothy ran toward them. Her girlish figure was clothed in a blue linen frock and a white apron covered her from throat to ankles. There were some faint traces of flour clinging to her wrists as if she had been suddenly summoned from the bread bowl. She looked fresh and sweet, strong and healthy, and a certain grace of manner pleased Mr. Davis instantly. He saw that she had her father’s eyes and coloring, his air of self-reliance. He noticed, too, that when she spoke to her parent her voice was tempered with a particular tenderness. This pleased him most of all, for he had expected to see somewhat of a hoyden. This girl, for all her prowess as a flyer, was totally feminine. Mr. Dixon introduced them.

“I didn’t know young ladies made bread these days,” said the detective as he shook hands with her.

Dorothy smiled and glanced at her arms. “Not bread, Mr. Davis, rolls for breakfast. Daddy likes them home-made, and I hate to get up early, so I’ve been mixing dough.”

“Do you think, dear, that Deborah can see Mr. Davis now? He is in charge of the case, you know.”


“Why yes, that will be perfectly all right, Daddy. When I took down her supper half an hour ago, the nurse said that any time would be convenient. She stipulated, though, that Mr. Davis have only one other person with him, and that the interview be as brief as possible.”

“Certainly, we want to spare her as much as we can,” said Mr. Davis. “I have only a few questions to ask. And I think I’ll take Bill with me. He’s been wounded in the fray, and I think that under the circumstances he has the right to hear first whatever Miss Lightfoot has to tell us.”

“He certainly has,” chimed in Osceola. “He saved Deb’s life. I’ve seen her this afternoon, but the nurse wouldn’t allow us to talk. Make it snappy, you two. I’m on pins and needles to learn her story.”

“All right—” Bill waved a bandaged hand, and with Dorothy leading the way, he and Mr. Davis went upstairs.

When they reached the door to Deborah’s room, Dorothy excused herself and went in, leaving them waiting in the corridor.


“Let me do most of the talking,” cautioned the detective. “And if she can’t remember, be sure not to press her. It might have a very serious effect on the girl’s health.”

Dorothy opened the door. “You may go in now. The poor child feels rather rocky still. Those brutes hit her over the head, you know, and she is still in a good deal of pain.”

Deborah lay on a lounge by the window. When they entered she was apparently asleep. Across her forehead, covering her temples, two narrow bandages bound up her wound. As the detective and Bill crossed the room, she opened her eyes, and her bruised, discolored face broke into a smile. Then, noticing their evident anxiety, she sat up, leaning an elbow on her pillow. A trained nurse hovered in the background a moment, then noiselessly left the room.


“Bill—don’t look so upset. It’s nothing—I’ll be all right in a day or two. We Seminoles are hard to down, you know. They tell me you saved my life, Bill. I don’t know what to say to thank you—”

“Please don’t!” Bill smiled down at her and took one of the two chairs that had been placed near her couch. “I’ll bet they forgot to tell you that I was saving my own life just about that time!”

“Oh, your poor hands!” she cried, spying the bandages. “Are they very badly torn?”

“Only scratched up a bit. We Boltons haven’t the honor to be Seminoles, but we’re pretty tough articles, just the same.” Deborah smiled, and Bill indicated his companion. “This is Mr. Davis, Deborah. He is in charge of the case and he wants to ask you a few questions.”

“How do you do, Mr. Davis?” Deborah spoke brightly enough, but Bill could see that the excitement of their visit was proving a strain.


“Now, if you don’t feel well enough to talk, Miss Lightfoot, we’ll postpone our chat until tomorrow,” said Mr. Davis in his pleasant voice.

Deborah shook her head. “No, Mr. Davis—I know that if I can tell you anything which will help you in your search for these men, then the sooner you have the information, the more valuable it will be to you. Of course, except for the fight with them in this room, after which they carried me downstairs, and then, for a few minutes in the automobile before they jabbed a hypodermic needle into my arm, I really know nothing—”

“I realize that, Miss Lightfoot. Bill said ‘questions’ just now, but there is only one thing I’ve come to ask you.”

Deborah looked relieved, yet faintly puzzled. “What is that, Mr. Davis?”

“Do you think you could describe the old man whose mask you pulled off in the automobile? We have reason to believe he is the leader of these kidnappers.”


“I am sure I can. You must know that the car was a seven-passenger Packard. I was placed in the middle of the rear seat between two men, who held me. The man you mentioned was sitting in one of the two extra seats that let down, just in front of me. Although I was still struggling with my captors, and half frantic, I noticed him particularly because he wore a black mask that entirely covered his face. Above the mask, a fringe of white hair showed at the edge of a black silk skullcap. Although I never saw him standing, I judged he was not much taller than five feet two or three. He was thin and small-boned, and narrow-shouldered. His head was very large, it seemed too large to be supported by his skinny neck. His voice was high-pitched and shrill. He wheezed, too, as though he might have asthma....”

“Splendid!” said Mr. Dixon, as the nurse brought Deborah a glass of water. “What did he look like when you pulled off the mask?”


Deborah smiled a little grimly. “For all the world like an old bird of prey, Mr. Davis. And a very much frightened bird, at that. Those men, you see, had gagged me with a handkerchief. I managed to get the thing out of my mouth and in the struggle that followed, the old man, who was wheezing orders all the time, leaned toward me. He tried to get hold of my right arm which I had wrenched free. The man on that side of me was temporarily out of the running, because I had jabbed him with my elbow just under the heart a moment before. Well, when the old man leaned toward me I made a grab for his head. My idea was to get a grip on the back of his thin neck and hurl him into the man on my left who had me by the arm. As it was, the old boy drew back suddenly, and instead of his neck, I got the mask.”

“Can you describe his features?”


“I’m quite sure I can. His forehead, below the fringe of white hair, was high and broad; the brow of a scholar, almost. Bushy white eyebrows shaded little dark eyes, brown, probably, which seemed too small for his face. Between these a very thin, high-bridged nose jutted out. He was clean-shaven, with rather high cheek bones and hollow cheeks. His mouth below his beak of a nose was a straight, thin-lipped line. From his nostrils, two deep furrows ran down to the corners of his mouth, and his chin was long and pointed. His throat was flabby and the Adam’s apple prominent. Oh, I forgot to say that, his entire face, nose and all was crisscrossed with the deep wrinkles of old age.”

“You are a most observant young lady, Miss Lightfoot. I never expected to receive such a detailed description. I can picture the old villain perfectly.”

“I am glad.” Deborah smiled back at him. “I am Seminole, you must remember, Mr. Davis. Indians, men and women, are trained from childhood to notice detail.”


The secret service man nodded. Then suddenly he uttered a sharp exclamation and leaned toward her.

“Can you tell me,” he asked, and all three of his hearers felt the excitement in his tone. “Can you remember, Miss Lightfoot, anything peculiar about this old man’s ears?”

“Yes, I—I can, Mr. Davis. I did notice them, particularly. They were small, set close to his head and absolutely lobeless. Also, with the single exception of Napoleon’s death mask, which I saw in New Orleans last year, I had never seen ears set so low on a person’s head. The top of both this man’s ears and those of the great French Emperor were on a line with the outside corners of their eyes!”

Mr. Davis leaned back in his chair, an oddly puzzled frown on his handsome features. “Miss Lightfoot,” he said slowly, “you will understand and pardon me when I say you are a very remarkable young woman—with a very fine memory.”


“I’m afraid I can’t agree with you, Mr. Davis. If my memory was really good, I could place the man. From the moment I glimpsed his face, I had a feeling that I’d seen him somewhere. Yet I haven’t the slightest idea where it could have been.”

“But you have told me who he is, just the same, hard as it is to believe the truth!”

“You know his name?” exclaimed Bill and Deborah simultaneously.

“I most certainly do. What’s more, I am pretty sure I know where Miss Lightfoot saw him—Excuse me for a moment.” He stood up. “I’m going downstairs, but I’ll be right back. In the meantime, I don’t want you young people to talk any more. Miss Lightfoot needs a rest and she must have it.”

He went swiftly out of the room and Deborah, now that further conversation was unnecessary, closed her eyes and lay back on the pillows. Bill sat, lost in thought, until Mr. Davis returned in a surprisingly short time.


In his hand he carried the Sunday roto-gravure section of a New York newspaper. Deborah looked up as he spread out the page and held it before her.

“Do you see your abductor here?”

Bill, who had risen and was looking over the detective’s shoulder, saw her point unhesitatingly to a large photograph at the top of the page, which portrayed two men, one middle-aged and the other old and wrinkled, seated in garden chairs on a lawn. Both were familiar faces, and the older was undoubtedly the man Deborah had just described. The picture was captioned: “President lunches with savant.”

Below, he read: “The President visited Professor Fanely on the latter’s ninetieth birthday, when he was the principal guest at the ‘Great Old Man’s’ birthday luncheon.”

“‘Great Old Man’ is right,” snorted Bill. “It takes some doing to run away with a young girl at ninety!”


“Do keep quiet, Bill!” Deborah’s pale face was serious. “Why, it seems impossible, doesn’t it, Mr. Davis? Of course I know Professor Fanely’s reputation as a scientist, everybody does, it’s world wide. Yet impossible as it may seem, I’m surer than ever that the old gentleman in the photograph there, sitting beside the President of the United States, was the man I unmasked early this morning!”

Mr. Davis took her hand in his. “I believe you, young lady,” he said kindly. “But Bill and I have a first class job on our hands. And I must ask both you and nurse over there not to breathe a word of this matter. What was formerly a serious affair has become a hundred-fold more so now. To know the truth is one thing: to be able to prove that truth quite another. And believe me when I say that if I am able to prove Professor Fanely, who is respected and loved the world over, the man who abducted you and tried to kill you, Bill and Osceola—I shall consider that I, too, am a world beater! Only I might as well say now that I haven’t the ghost of a show.”


Chapter XII

“Before we can think of arresting Professor Fanely,” remarked Mr. Davis, “we must have indisputable evidence that we can put before a jury.”

“But surely, Mr. Davis,” argued Osceola, “Deborah’s description of the old man—her recognition of his photograph should be sufficient to convict him.”

“On the contrary,” declared Bill. “Although it has put us wise to the old buzzard, it really is no evidence at all. Am I right, Mr. Davis?”

“You certainly are, Bill. We’d be hooted out of court in no time; and probably have countercharges of criminal libel brought against us by old Fanely into the bargain.”


The trio had just walked back to the Bolton house. Ensconced in comfortable chairs on the side porch, they had constituted themselves a Ways-and-Means committee.

Bill came back at his friend again. “You’re letting your personal feeling for Deborah enter into this, Osceola. It just can’t be done.”

“But Deborah is perfectly sure. She was in the car with the man, wasn’t she? Her word—”

“Is quite good enough for us, or for anyone who really knows Miss Lightfoot’s admirable character,” broke in the secret service man. He shrewdly guessed the impatience that raged beneath the young Seminole’s calm exterior. But rational discussion of the problem, and not heated argument was their object in conferring. He therefore proceeded to pour oil upon troubled waters. “You see, Chief,” he went on to explain, “this is not a case where anybody’s word, no matter who he or she may be, will count in the balance with the word of Professor Fanely himself.”


“Obviously, he’d deny it—” said Bill.

“Not only deny any charge preferred against him,” Mr. Davis said earnestly. “He would be sure to bring forth a cast iron alibi that no one could break. And, however illogical it might seem, in all probability his mere word would be adjudged sufficient. Think of the man’s life-long reputation—the things he has done. His name is a household word the world over. And with all that in his favor to prejudice public opinion, Professor Fanely is a Croesus. The patents on his scientific discoveries have brought him millions. And, to cap the pyramid of his fortifications, he counts as his friends the great men of both this country and Europe....”

Osceola turned his dark eyes from an unseeing study of the patterned porch rug, and nodded slowly. “I begin to see our difficulties—at least, some of them. I ask your pardon, Mr. Davis, for making a fool of myself!”


“Nonsense, my boy!” Davis leaned forward and patted him on the knee. “You made the natural mistake of believing we had to deal with a private individual.”

“Whereas,” grinned Bill, “the professor is really a national institution!”

“Exactly. We three are convinced that there is a screw loose somewhere in that great brain, but we’ve simply got to prove that. Merely saying that he is this and that would let us in for a lot of trouble, and only defeat our ends.”

“Yes, I suppose so. But what can we do about this mess if nobody will believe us?”

“Find out what racket old Fanely is running—and get him with the goods.”


“Easier said than done, Bill. Let’s kidnap the old boy and that Kolinski guy, for choice. Leave me alone in a room with those bozos for half an hour, and I’ll come out with a couple of signed confessions. They’re a pair of third degree artists themselves. I’m fed up with all this kid glove business. And they’ve got a whole lot coming from me before we break even.”

They were silent for a minute or two. Mr. Davis brought out his pipe, filled and lighted it. Tossing the glowing match over the porch rail, he turned toward the irate young chief.

“But such methods will get us nowhere. And even if we were able to follow out your suggestion, I, as servant of the Federal Government, could not countenance it. Bill is right. Only by learning what is really in back of this, will we be able to apprehend the ringleader, and put him where he can do no more harm. I’m old enough to be your father, chief, and I’ve been in this business since before you were born. As you know, I first thought that we were up against a dope smuggling gang. That is how I first came onto this case.”


“Then you’ve changed your mind about that?” inquired Bill.

“Yes and no. Dope smuggling from Europe may be part of it—but only part. That would be small potatoes for a man of the professor’s standing and wealth. There’s something else behind all this winged cartwheel affair, and we’ve touched only the edge of it. The next move on our program is to do exactly what Bill suggests: go and find out about it. Before Miss Lightfoot put us wise to Professor Fanely, I hadn’t the least idea where to turn. Her information gives us the lead and we shall certainly take advantage of it.”

Bill looked up. “The old boy has a big place in Greenwich, has he not?”

“Yes. And one or more of us will be in that house of his before thirty-six hours.”

“Why thirty-six hours?” This from Osceola. “Why not tonight? Greenwich is only just beyond Stamford—we can run down there in forty-five minutes by car.”


“There are two very good reasons, perhaps three, why we won’t do so tonight, chief. Fanely knows that Deborah has awakened by this time from the hypodermic injection he administered. He will figure that if she really got a good look at him, and knows him to be the famous scientist whose features the magazines and newspapers have made public property, he may expect trouble in some form at Greenwich tonight. He will therefore be very much on the lookout for it. Or he may take the initiative himself, and stage another kidnapping across the road before morning. In either case, we will be much more useful in New Canaan than in Greenwich.


“If his men do not come here tonight and nobody bothers him down there, the chances are, he will believe that your fiancee didn’t get such a good look at him after all. It was dark in that car last night. His vast knowledge and discoveries have been along chemical and electrical lines. It’s not likely he remembers or even knows the ability of your race to see so much better in the dark than his. So by tomorrow, when nothing happens, he’ll consider that incident closed and go about his business as usual.”

“And,” said Bill, “if we take a run down to his joint tomorrow night, I may be of some use. These bandages will be off my hands by then.”

“That is another point. Bill naturally wants to be in on anything we do—so you see, chief?—”

“I see,” nodded Osceola. “It never struck me, either, that there might be another attack on the Dixon’s tonight. What are your plans, Mr. Davis?”


“You and I will go over there in a little while. Mr. Dixon and I arranged for it earlier in the evening. We will sleep on cots in the library, and with Mr. Dixon we’ll divide the night into two-hour watches. With the three of us on hand, we can watch two hours and sleep four. The New Canaan police have two men patrolling the Dixon grounds right now. Two more relieve them at midnight and will remain on duty until daylight. And until this job is cleaned up, I’ve arranged to have a policeman on the place during the day as well.”

“Very nice, very nice indeed,” remarked Bill, only half stifling a yawn. “And where, may I ask, do I come in?”

Mr. Davis smiled. “Down at Greenwich tomorrow night, my boy. If anything happens across the way, you’d be no earthly use with your hands out of commission. My orders to you are to turn in and get a good rest tonight. Tomorrow when the Chief and I are making up for lost sleep, you can take your turn at duty.”

“Aye, aye, sir.” Bill spoke submissively enough, but it took no great exercise of perception to realize that he was not a bit keen on that part of Mr. Davis’ plan.


Chapter XIII

Bill awoke, yawned, then sat up in bed. Broad daylight was streaming into the room through the screened windows and a glance at his watch showed the time to be nine o’clock. The door opened and Osceola poked his dark head around the edge of it.

“How’s the bandaged hero this morning?” he inquired and came into the bedroom.

“Sleepy, thank you.” Bill swung his legs over the side of the bed, stretched luxuriously and stood up. “I’ll feel more human when I’ve had a shower. Nothing happened across the way last night?”

“Not a blessed thing, and Deborah, I’m glad to say, seems quite her old self this morning.”


“Good! Any orders from the boss?”

“Davis, you mean?”

“Yeah. What’s the old sleuth doing this merry morn?”

“He’s gone to New York. Left on the express an hour and a half ago, said he’d be back by six-thirty this evening at the latest.”

“What are we to do in the meantime?”

“Take it easy. I didn’t sleep a wink last night, so I’m going to make up for it. I peeped in here a couple of times, but you were a dead one.”

“Why did you wait for me to wake up?”

“Davis left some of that salve for your hands. I knew you couldn’t apply it yourself and get the bandages back on again, so—”

“You did yourself out of some sleep for my sake—Well, you certainly are a good chap, Osceola! Let me get under that shower and then we’ll go to it on the first aid job.”


When Bill’s hands were dressed, Osceola went to his room, while his host spent a quiet morning lazing about the house. After lunch the boys fetched Dorothy and Deborah and drove down to the Beach Club. While Bill lay on the sand in the sun, the other three took a dip in the invigorating waters of Long Island Sound.

After ice cream and cakes on the Club House porch, they drove up into the hills to New Canaan again, much refreshed by their outing. All mention of winged cartwheels had been taboo throughout the afternoon, and Bill felt that he was ready to face the forthcoming adventure in Greenwich with added vim and a head swept clear of the cobwebs of worry and too much excitement. They dropped the girls at the Dixons’ and after driving home, found Mr. Davis smoking on the porch.

“Well, you men,” he greeted them with a jolly smile, “have you had a real lazy—and therefore profitable—day of it?”


“We sure have,” said Osceola. “Not only ourselves but the girls as well. We’ve just come back from a swim in the Sound. Poor Bill missed out on that end of it, though.”

“Glad you’ve had a good rest,” observed the secret service man, “you both needed it. Let’s have a look at the hands, Bill.”

“They certainly feel all to the merry,” said their owner, as the bandages were removed.

“And they are all to the merry, Bill.” Mr. Davis gently wiped away the brown salve with a clean piece of linen. “Just a little red, that’s all. They’ve healed by first intention, as I knew they would. Go easy with them for a couple of days and they’ll give you no more trouble.”

Bill stared at them in amazement. “That salve sure is wonderful stuff, sir! It’s worried me all day—that they might put a crimp in my evening. But I guess I’d better wear a pair of gloves, eh?”

“Yes, cotton ones for choice.”


“I’ll drive down to the village and see if I can pick up a pair for you,” offered Osceola.

“You forget,” said Bill, “that once upon a time, I was a midshipman. White cotton gloves are part of the equipment.”

“That reminds me,” said Mr. Davis. “I had a wire early this morning in response to one I sent Washington last night. My conference today in New York was with no less a person that a member of the President’s cabinet. This is a very serious charge we’re making against a very big man—who is also a tremendous power in politics, unfortunately, although few people are aware of that fact. And when I tell you that the gentleman I met today came from the capital as the direct representative of the President of the United States and as his spokesman, you may begin to get an idea of the magnitude this winged cartwheels affair has assumed. Tonight’s reconnoiter, for it will be little more than that, must be handled with kid gloves.”


“White cotton for mine!” Bill grinned at Osceola.

“Right-o, boy!” laughed the detective. “Maybe I’m getting a little too serious. But I’ve staked my reputation on Professor Fanely’s being the person we are looking for and any slips on our part mean an end to your friend Ashton Sanborn so far as his career is concerned.”

“And whatever careers may be opening up for Bill Bolton, and Osceola, the Seminole, for that matter!” supplemented the young Chief.

“Exactly! Now I’m going to tell you this evening’s plans—and I expect implicit obedience.”

Both young fellows nodded.


“We—that is, the three of us, will leave here after dinner in my car, so as to arrive in Greenwich about nine o’clock. It will be dark then. You lads will get out of the car about a quarter of a mile before we come to the Fanely estate, while I go on in the car and call on Professor Fanely.”

“What? You’re going up to the house quite openly?” Osceola cried.

“Quite openly, Chief, and in by the front door. I shall have credentials with me, and the probabilities are I shall be granted an interview by the old man. My pretext for intruding upon him will be that the man Kolinski, for whom the federal authorities are seeking, has been seen in the grounds. I shall tell the old man that it is understood this Pole is in his employ, but that no matter what references Kolinski may have had, he is an impostor, and a pedlar of narcotics.”

Bill drew a deep breath. “Well, I know it’s not my place to criticize, and I hope you’ll forgive me. But don’t you think an approach like that is pretty poor stuff, Mr. Davis? It hardly seems reasonable to me that a man of Professor Fanely’s mentality would swallow bunk like that.”


Mr. Davis’ bright eyes twinkled. “I’ll be the most surprised man in Connecticut if he does,” he laughed. “But you’re missing the point, Bill, and naturally so. The only reason I’m calling on Professor Fanely is to make him talk.”

“But what about the master mind? Will it spill the beans?” Osceola asked incredulously.

“Why, not at all. As I said before, the idea is to get him to talk—and while he’s talking, you chaps will be outside the window, listening to his voice. Incidentally, I expect to make a mental note of his expression when Kolinski is mentioned to him. But, my young critics, your listening stunt is the one and only reason we’re going to Greenwich tonight. By orders of the President, I am not permitted to go further in this case until both of you have identified Professor Fanely’s voice as the one you heard, blindfolded, in that tower room yesterday morning.”


“But how,” asked Bill, “are we going to know in which room you two will be swapping lies? I’ve been past the Fanely place, and though the house is too far back from the road to see it well, they tell me it is about the size of an orphan asylum, and just as ugly. Have you any idea where your interview will take place?”

“I have. The man I conferred with in New York today says that Fanely always sees callers in his library. The library is at the front of the house, on the northwest corner. You’ll be able to stand in the shrubbery and see into the room very easily.”

“Thank heaven, it’s on the ground floor!” sighed Bill with relief. “I’ve had just about all the climbing I want lately.”


Mr. Davis gave Bill a grave smile. “Yes, it is just as well you’ll have no climbing tonight, with those hands. But to get back to the plan of campaign. When I leave you chaps, get into the grounds and make for the house. Chances are the old fellow is well guarded, so be on the watch. After the way you two went through the woods up at Heartfield’s, I’m sure you’re capable of making your objective without being seen. Choose one of the windows at the side of the house, if possible. And keep under cover. Listen to the conversation until you’re sure that Fanely is our man. Then go back to the road. I will pick you up there.”

“What if the windows are closed?” Osceola inquired. “This weather is warm enough, but the aged are never keen on drafts or fresh air, you know.”

“That’s a good point, Chief, and I’ve got something here that will take care of it.” He produced a small package from his coat pocket. “Putty and a diamond-tipped glass-cutter’s tool,” he explained. “Slap the putty on the window pane, then cut round it with the tool. The piece of cut glass will come away with the putty. If you lads stick with me for any length of time, I’ll soon have you trained as expert housebreakers,” he laughed.


“That,” said Bill, “is all right as far as it goes, but also suppose the old buzzard gets nasty. Our one and only interview with him gave me the impression that he could be fiendishly cruel when he chose.”

Mr. Davis looked puzzled. “I don’t think I quite get you, Bill.”

“I mean, sir, what provision have you made for your own safety? Supposing Old Fanely, who is nobody’s fool by your own admission, gets an inkling of what is really in the wind, and has his men jump you? The fiend was capable of having us put out of the way. He may try the same thing on you.”


“Oh, no, he won’t. In the first place he will know exactly who I am and what I represent. If I were done away with, his plans, whatever they are, would come tumbling down like a house of cards. Such procedure would jeopardize his enormous interests and immediately place him in a position where the police would step in and apprehend him for murder. I talked over such possibilities with the man I saw in New York and we discounted them. Professor Fanely, unless pushed to the wall, will do nothing so crude as that. This is simply a business call I’m making. He will probably deny any knowledge of Kolinski; I will string him along for a while so you two can get an earful and then bid him good night,—with apologies for taking up his valuable time.”

“Couldn’t we notify Captain Simmonds, or even the Greenwich police to keep a watchful eye open?” persisted Bill. “I hate to think of you putting yourself in that old devil’s power. The Chief and I have been in direct contact with him—you haven’t!”


Mr. Davis seemed touched. “It’s good of you boys to take so much interest in my safety, and I appreciate it, I need hardly tell you. But the thing is impossible. My orders are to keep this absolutely to ourselves. Not even the police must hear a rumor against the Professor. The gentleman from Washington ridiculed the idea of Fanely’s being connected with any scandal. He said frankly that he believed it to be a case of mistaken identity. And it was only after a long and serious discussion that I obtained permission to call on Fanely. He allowed me to outline my suppositions, but told me that if we continue on this trail, we must go it alone.”

“Which means, of course,” Osceola remarked, “that if Bill and I are caught in the grounds and manhandled for trespassing, you will deny that we were acting under your orders, and we’re just as likely to get a jail sentence for our trouble.”

“That,” said Mr. Davis, “is the case in a nutshell. I won’t insult you chaps by asking whether you’re willing to follow my lead. I shall carry a revolver and you do as you choose about going armed. Now then, all well?”


Both lads laughed, and nodded vigorous affirmative.

“Let’s go in and eat,” suggested Bill. “And here’s hoping we really get something on old Fanely after dinner.”


Chapter XIV

Shortly before nine o’clock that evening, Ashton Sanborn, or Mr. Davis, as he preferred to be known, waved a hand to Bill and Osceola and drove off along the highway. A minute or two later the road swung past the stone wall, fragrant with late honeysuckle, that bounded the Fanely estate. But instead of entering the drive, he kept going straight ahead for several miles.


When at last he felt that the lads had been given time enough to reach their destination, he turned the car round at a crossroad and came back, driving slowly. This time he turned in between the stone gate posts that marked the entrance. The bluestone road bed wound like a huge snake through wooded acres, and half a mile from the highway, entered a grove of tall elms that belted broad lawns landscaped with flower gardens and shrubs. The immense grey stone house looked much more like a public institution than a private dwelling.

Mr. Davis parked his car before a wide stone terrace. He walked sedately up the steps and rang the doorbell. While he waited he studied the beautiful outer door, intricately fashioned of wrought iron and glass. He could not see into the house, for a curtain was drawn close to the glass on the inside.

The door noiselessly opened, and framed in the ornate entrance stood a middle-aged man in evening dress. His left arm was held close to his body by a black silk sling.

“Ashton Sanborn!”

Mr. Davis peered closely at the man, who now looked as if he would willingly have bitten off his tongue for the ejaculation. But a moment later the recognition was mutual.


The secret service man smiled. “Blessed if it isn’t my friend Serge Kolinski! Fancy meeting you here, and without your mustache—no wonder I hardly recognized you!” Mr. Davis advanced with outstretched hand, while the Pole backed away.

While Sanborn stared at him, the man glanced furtively over his shoulder into the gloom of the spacious hall. He seemed to be in the grip of some overwhelming fear. Then, wetting his dry lips with the tip of his tongue, he turned to the detective.

“Mr. Sanborn—I—you must clear out of here—get away!” His speech now bore no trace of the foreign accent which the girls had mentioned. “You’ve always played the white man to me, Mr. Sanborn—never tried to frame me, or—But clear out, sir—do you hear?”

Sanborn laughed shortly. “I thought you knew me better than that, Kolinski.”


“Look here, Mr. Sanborn—don’t say I haven’t warned you—don’t say I’ve done you dirt!” Kolinski’s whisper was almost inaudible.

Mr. Davis frowned uneasily. The man’s fear was so genuine, his manner so agitated, that the detective felt a creepy feeling touch his spine. He shuddered involuntarily, then pulled himself together.

“I’d like to speak to Professor Fanely, Kolinski—”

“Don’t do it, Mr. Sanborn, don’t do it—you—”

“Show Mr. Ashton Sanborn into the library, Kolinski!”

The high-pitched, wheezing voice was cold and toneless, yet held an undercurrent of evil. Kolinski shivered, then placed a trembling forefinger on his lips.


“Then go to your room. I’ll attend to you later. You talk too much.”


Ashton Sanborn followed the thoroughly frightened Kolinski across the wide hall and into the library. It was empty, but a bright fire blazed on the hearth at the other end of the room. Shades were drawn over the windows. The room felt stuffy, and oppressively warm. Kolinski retired without a word. The unseen master’s voice had apparently withered his power of speech.

Sanborn stood with his hands clasped behind his back, gazing about the room, waiting for Professor Fanely to appear. The four walls were lined to the ceiling with books, and the place was austerely furnished. Sanborn felt uneasy, not only in Kolinski’s behalf, but somehow obscurely, in his own. There was something sinister in the very atmosphere. The wheezing voice and its unspoken menace echoed in his brain....


Five minutes passed. He wondered if Bill and Osceola were outside the windows, or whether they had been waylaid in the grounds by Fanely’s men. He took out his watch and looked at it. The five minutes extended to ten.

Ashton Sanborn began to fret at the delay. But the thought that this discourtesy was probably intentional somewhat curbed his impatience. He sat down in an armchair and pulled out his pipe and tobacco. If Professor Fanely chose to ignore his visit, then old Fanely would have to put up with breach of etiquette on his part. He was just on the point of lighting it, when a gentle, cultured voice spoke immediately behind him.

“That’s right, Mr. Sanborn. Make yourself at home!”

Ashton Sanborn swung round in his chair. Standing not three feet away, exuding goodwill with a benign smile, and rubbing his hands together, was the biggest man the detective had ever seen. Sanborn was startled, not so much at the man’s presence, but that he had not heard him enter the room. It seemed uncanny that such a huge man could move so quietly. The secret service man jumped to his feet.


“Good evening! I called to see Professor Fanely. My card, apparently, is not needed.”

“Oh, no, Mr. Sanborn. We—er—have heard of you, although, speaking for myself, I have never, to my knowledge, had the pleasure of seeing you before.” The big fellow stared down on Sanborn from his superior height. “Professor Fanely is not at home, Mr. Sanborn.”


“Ah! I’m afraid I express myself rather badly. I mean to convey to you that Professor Fanely is indisposed.”

“But I thought I heard him speak in the hall a moment ago?”


“Oh, no. No, that was certainly not Professor Fanely. Oh, dear me, no.” He laughed—an unpleasant sound, for all its softness. “That was Mr.—but his name does not matter. He is upstairs now, attending to Mr. Kolinski, our estimable butler. You must not place too much reliance on our Kolinski’s chatter, you know. He does not always tell the truth. In fact, to put it bluntly, Mr. Sanborn, Mr. Kolinski is not—er—unfamiliar with the inside of a jail!”

“I know that well enough. I’ve been instrumental in sending him up the river twice, myself.”

“Oh, dear me! Fancy that, now!”

There came a silence, during which Sanborn had the vaguely uncomfortable feeling that a third presence had somehow entered the room. Mechanically he lit his pipe, and, blowing the first mouthful of smoke upward, he carelessly subjected the ceiling to a covert scrutiny. Nothing doing. He stooped and tapped the bowl of his pipe on an ashtray which rested on a small table. No one on the left hand side of the room. He turned round quickly, ostensibly to adjust a cushion on his easy chair. A flutter of a curtain hanging near the door caught his eye. Then he seated himself and leaned back comfortably.


“Yes,” he answered the big man’s unspoken inquiry. “That is why I called—to warn you against Kolinski. But as you are already aware of his past delinquencies—well,—” he shrugged his shoulders and stood up. “This is beside the point, now, don’t you think? Perhaps you had better ring for the man so that I may place him under arrest.”

“They’ll never bring him in here!”

Bill Bolton swung the curtain back and stepped into the room, a revolver grasped in his gloved right hand. “Stick ’em up, Lambert,” he told the big man. “That’s right—stick ’em up and keep ’em up!”

“But Bill—” Sanborn began, his eyes on the man called Lambert who had complied with the curt order and was reaching toward the ceiling.


Bill shook his head impatiently. “No time for argument, sir. They are on to your visit and don’t intend to let you leave the house alive. Kolinski is their sacrifice in this deal. He’s probably been killed by this time.”

“Are you sure about this, Bill? How could you possibly learn—”

“We’ve got to hustle,” Bill cut him short. “Explain later. Oh, I’m sure enough, never fear!”

A colored rope was attached to the curtain. He disengaged it and tossed it to Sanborn.

“Now you—” he indicated Lambert, “take a walk to that chair and sit down.”

There was a murderous gleam in Lambert’s eyes as he retreated. He knew, of course, that these two were acting in conjunction, but could not understand these new secret service methods.

“Now tie him up. I’ll keep him covered. He’s got a gun. Better relieve him of it. His game was to shoot you just as soon as your back was safely turned.”


Ashton Sanborn did as he was told, cheerfully, albeit wonderingly. How Bill could have gained his information and what he was up to now were as yet unsolved mysteries. He took away the man’s gun, a blue-nosed automatic. Then, carefully, he tied Lambert’s arms to the back of the chair and roped his legs securely.

“Better lock the door,” was Bill’s next suggestion. “I’ll gag him.”

The detective hurried to the door. There was no key in the lock. He clutched the handle—rattled it—pulled—The door did not budge.

“What’s up, sir?” Bill’s voice betrayed his apprehension.


“Then we’re in for it.” It was not so much the words as the way they were spoken that impressed the secret service man.

“But—if it’s trouble, Bill, we must find a way out,” he said calmly.


“There is no way. They’re likely to come in on us through that door any minute now.” Bill’s voice was steady, but Sanborn knew he was attempting to conceal his strong excitement.

“If the door’s locked on the outside, we’d better barricade it on the inside.” He looked round the room for a suitable means of fortification, and his eyes fell upon the huge Lambert.

The man’s face was pale, almost haggard, and beads of sweat stood out upon his forehead. He was afraid.

In spite of their potential danger, Sanborn smiled as the thought struck him. “Here, Bill, give me a hand.”

Young Bolton immediately saw the possibility. Together the pair dragged the mutely protesting Lambert to the door, and planted him firmly in his chair against the panels. Over two hundred-weight of solid humanity—an effective barrier.

“Now then, Bill. Where’s Osceola?”


“Outside the window. Or he was.” Bill’s voice was little more than a whisper. “We got here more than ten minutes before you drove up—legged it fast across the grounds, without running into a soul. The windows on this side of the house are too high to see into from the ground. Luckily Osceola spied a ladder leaning against an elm, on the way here, where some tree surgeon had left it, I guess. Anyway, it was just what we wanted, so we hiked over and toted it back. I climbed it and cut a hole in the glass just above the window-catch. I couldn’t see into the room because of the shade, but I could hear, all right. That big goop over there was talking with Professor Fanely. And by the way, there’s absolutely no doubt that old Fanely is the guy we’re after. His voice is the one I heard in the cupola. Osceola recognized it, too. Of course, when I got the piece of glass out of the window, they were in the midst of a conversation. I gathered that you’d been followed to New York today. Evidently they knew nothing about your conference, but the cabinet member was spotted going into the same office where you had been trailed. So, the old bird had figured out just about what did happen in New York. Take it from me, there are no flies on that old fellow! He guessed how you would be sure that he, Fanely, was the kidnapper from Deborah’s description, and how the lad from Washington would laugh at the idea. He even had the hunch that you would show up tonight! And while they were talking, Kolinski came in and said that a phone message had come through from the lodge, and that you were on the way up.”


“But I wonder how they guessed my identity?”

“Your car license—Kolinski said so. Those things seem to be working for both sides in this business. Kolinski, the poor chap, was scared to death, apparently. The old man had it in for him because he made the initial mistake of dropping that silver cartwheel out of his car, and making it possible for the girls to identify him. But he was only in the room a couple of minutes. When he’d gone, the Professor said that as soon as you came they’d go upstairs. They planned that after Kolinski had ushered you in here, they’d put him out of the way. And the next move was for Lambert to come down here and do the same for you. Of course, old Fanely thought you’d come armed, so he cautioned the big guy to watch his step. If it hadn’t been for that,—well, I guess I’d have been too late.” Bill bit his lip. “I don’t see how the old buzzard imagined he could avoid government suspicion by doing you in, as well as Kolinski—Well, that’s about all of it. When you rang the bell, they went out of here, so I unfastened the window catch and hopped in.”


“Good work, Bill. You’re the sort of a chap a man needs on a job like this—”

Bill grinned and shook his head. “I’m all right as far as I go, but I guess—“ he motioned toward the barricaded door—“I just didn’t go far enough. But Osceola’s outside somewhere, I thought he’d better stay on watch. So maybe—”


There was a knock on the door. They looked at each other and waited.

“Well, Lambert? Is the dear Mister Ashton Sanborn, alias Davis—er—non compos—I mean hors de combat?” A pause. “So, my dear Lambert, you have failed, eh?” A fierce menace in the words now.

The bound man’s face turned a sickly gray, and Sanborn felt a momentary pity for him. Then they heard whispered instructions outside the door, and the sound of running feet. Sanborn tried a bluff.

“Hi! you!—there’s a posse of police surrounding the house!”

A cackling laugh that ended in a snarl.

“Yes, I saw him go!”


“So he got away all right? Thanks very much. He should be back by this time, with about thirty others.” Sanborn listened intently in an effort to ascertain whether or not his shot had gone home. Then—“They are only awaiting my signal.”

“Then why not signal, my dear Sanborn?”

A second later a shot rang out. Simultaneously a round hole, splintered at the edges, appeared in the upper panel of the door, and a bullet whistled past the detective and buried itself in the opposite wall. The hole in the panel was about two inches above Lambert’s head, and with protruding eyes the wretched man endeavored to shrink into the chair.

Bill and Sanborn dropped to all fours and were making for the window, when a second shot was fired. This time it came from outside the house and shattered the lower window sash. Both the detective and young Bolton went flat on the floor. Sanborn beckoned to Bill to move closer. As the lad wriggled over the carpet toward him, the older man spoke to him in a low whisper.


“Sorry I got you into this. When they rush the place, start firing. We may be able to fight our way out—one of us, anyway.”

“Maybe—but—too bad we’re a good four miles from town. If Osceola got away to telephone the police, it’s going to be a near thing before they get here. But all I want is to get one shot at old Fanely!”

As if in reply to his name, the high, wheezing voice spoke again from beyond the door. “You gentlemen in there,” and they heard a horrible chuckle, “will be interested to know that your friend Chief Osceola ran foul of my men, after all. He is now taking a well-earned rest in the lodge. Good night, my dear gentlemen. Pleasant dreams, and may you awake—in heaven!”

As if to place a period on this unanswered monologue, another shot splintered through the door panels.


Chapter XV

“And that’s that,” said Bill, still keeping his voice to a whisper. “Disgusting old beast! Let’s turn off the lights in here and try the window. Anything is better than lying here.”

“Wait a minute—I’ve an idea!” Sanborn pointed to the fireplace. Bill nodded and together they wriggled across the rugs.

The chimney, with its grate of glowing coals, was an old-fashioned structure. Although probably no older than this modern residence, it appeared to be a worthy monument of another generation. Wide at the base, it tapered toward the top, and on its inner walls a number of iron staples, rusty and covered with soot, led upward.


Sanborn stepped within the chimney and grasped the first staple. “Phew!” he gasped, jerking his hand away, “—hot!

“And probably insecure.” Bill was beside him now. They were out of the line of fire from the door and windows. “I’ll tell you what—that ladder! Wait—” He picked up a small shovel from the hearth. “I’ll get these live coals into the scuttle. That should cool the chimney some.”

Sanborn helped with a tongs, and the coals were quickly transferred. Bill found a wall switch and turned off the light. Together they went to the window by which Bill had entered, and cautiously lifting the shade a couple of inches, they peered through the glass. Three men, revolvers in hand, were approaching the ladder across a flower bed.

“Get ’em in the legs,” whispered Sanborn.


Two shots rang out like one, and two of the attackers dropped in their tracks. The third, evidently deciding that distance lent enchantment, streaked for the shadow of the trees without returning their fire. They let him go.

Bill raised the window and they seized the topmost rung of the ladder and started to haul it into the library. It was half-way through the window when there came a flash from the corner of the house. The glass door of a bookcase was shattered, but neither Bill nor the detective paid any attention to it. A second more and the ladder was inside.

Sanborn mopped the perspiration from his brow. “Jiminy! That was close, Bill.”

Bill nodded and stuck his head out of the window. “Lucky they can’t see us, sir. They might try to snipe us from behind the trees.”

As though in answer to his challenge, without warning, the chandelier that hung from the ceiling in a spray of electric bulbs, sprang into light.

“Duck, Bill, duck!” A fusillade of shots rang out as the pair dropped to the floor.


Bill’s eyes fell upon the pile of black coal he had dumped from the scuttle before filling it with the hot ones from the grate. Motioning Sanborn to follow, he wormed his way to the hearth and picked up a good-sized piece of coal. He handed it to Sanborn and took a similar piece himself. Then he pointed to the electric bulbs, and winked cheerfully.

They hurled their missiles simultaneously. Bill’s was a bullseye but the detective’s fell short of the mark. With the “plop” and the tinkle of falling glass, one of the bulbs was out of action. Bill grabbed another coal and a moment later the room went dark again.

“Good shooting, Bill.”

“Not so worse. Now gimme a hand with the ladder, sir. We’ll push it up the chimney.”

It was easier said than done. The ladder was too long and the angle too acute.

“Never mind, Bill. We must chance it.”


Ashton Sanborn felt the staple he had tried before. It was still warm, but bearable to the touch. “I’ll go first. It’s a good thing you wore gloves.”

“Yes, but I wish they were leather, not cotton. Still, my hands feel all right.”

“That’s good. Got a handkerchief? Here’s mine. Stuff one inside each glove. They’ll protect the thin skin of your palms.”

“Thanks. Gee, this is a wild party, isn’t it? I didn’t expect to be throwing coal at light bulbs—or stuffing handkerchiefs in my gloves—but say, sir, what about Lambert?”

“Lord! I’d almost forgotten him. Here, lend me a hand with the ladder. It will be useful after all. We don’t want our friend to topple over with the chair and let them in that way.”


They placed the top of the ladder against the upper panel of the door and thrust the bound man’s head between two of the rungs. Then they jammed the foot of the ladder into one of the bookshelves, removing half a dozen books to make way for it. It fitted and held firmly.

“Good! Now, you keep the ladder nicely in position, Lambert,” warned the detective. “The chances are if they break down the door, they’ll break your neck. Sorry—but time means more than kindness just now. You weren’t too considerate of a certain young lady the other night, either. And it will probably save the state the price of a hangman—So long!”

They left the silent figure and again essayed the ascent of the chimney. The air was almost stifling, but the staples held. Through clouds of soot dislodged by their progress, the two made their way upward. There came a slope in the angle of the chimney, and a dim square appeared overhead, a shade less dark than the blackness that enveloped them.


Sanborn felt for his electric torch, then remembered he had left it in his car. Feeling in his pockets, he finally produced a box of matches. After considerable trouble, he managed to strike one. The draught immediately extinguished it. The nearer they got to the top, however, the less dark the chimney seemed. Meanwhile he had to feel round for every staple, sending showers of soot upon Bill with every movement.

Again Sanborn felt the wall. Yes, there was no doubt about it. A good twenty feet to go, and no more staples. Well, there was nothing for it except to travel mountaineering fashion, back braced against one wall, feet against the other. It seemed simple enough, but when he attempted it, the chimney proved too wide, and he all but crashed onto Bill just below.


A sudden gust of wind sent a cloud of smoke belching down the shaft. Sanborn shut his eyes and gripped the last staple. He could hear Bill coughing and spluttering down below, while the shaft slowly cleared. Then Sanborn discovered that just above his head the inlet of another chimney joined the main shaft. He decided that the smoke came from there. It must be passed, and quickly, for the air was foul enough without the addition of smoke. Again he tried to wriggle upward, but found that the heat and the fumes from the other shaft were too much for him. He eased down again to the comparative security of the staple. If he could manage to stand on that last staple, he might somehow get past the vomiting side vent. But even if the chimney narrowed above the other shaft, the smoke would be suffocating.

“Buck up, sir!” Bill’s voice sounded thick and weary. “What’s the trouble?”


Sanborn told him. “Guess we’ll have to go down,” he began, then stopped as the sound of splintering wood reached their ears from the library, and a crash. A moment later there was a rush of feet and a cry as Fanely discovered that their prisoners were missing. There was further scurrying, then that high, menacing voice.

“The chimney! That’s where they are!”

A moment’s silence, then the sound of a shot reverberated deafeningly up the shaft. The chimney immediately filled with particles of soot scattered by the percussion. Both Bill and the detective mentally blessed that change in the angle of the chimney.

“Ah!—” again that hideous voice,—“I have an inspiration—yes, an inspiration. We shall—er—relight the fire!”

Sanborn swore under his breath.

“Yes, yes, relight the fire. And I think a little gasoline is indicated. Lambert, you are well enough to phone the garage for a can or two? Jacques, go fetch some paper and wood. No, wait a moment. Shovels can be used, there is one on the hearth—to transport the fire from the dining room fireplace. Peter, you stand here and shoot them if they come down.”


For several minutes Bill and Sanborn clung to their precarious perches, each wracking his brain for a way out of this horrible snare.

“Listen!” cried Bill in a hoarse whisper. “Hold on tight. I’m going to climb up your body. Then I’ll get a foot on the top of the other shaft and haul you up. I can get on your shoulders again and get a grip on the top of the chimney. You can climb out and haul me after you. What do you think?”

“It’s a chance, Bill. And if we don’t smother in the attempt, it’s worth trying, anyway. Come ahead.”

Bill pulled himself upward and over Sanborn’s body until he stood on the detective’s broad shoulders. Then he gasped in astonishment. The heat and smoke from the other chimney had subsided and the air was now bearable. The explanation came like a flash. This must be the outlet from the dining room, from which the fire had been removed. There was not a moment to lose.


Dropping his legs into the dining room shaft, he lay bellywise across the junction of the two openings and reached down toward Sanborn.

“Hurry up, old sport,” he cried, gripping the detective’s extended hands. “That’s right—up you come!”

“But what—the smoke’s gone—”

“Never mind that now—drop down this shaft beside me. It’s narrow enough to brace with your back and legs. And make it snappy, too, or you’ll get singed.”

Ashton Sanborn swung back beside Bill. There was a subdued roar down the chimney. Then a sheet of flame shot upward.


Chapter XVI

“That got the dear gentlemen!” There came a rasping chuckle from below. “Yes, that sent them to their happy hunting ground. Too bad the Indian wasn’t with them, but he will serve another purpose.”

“Beg pardon, Professor—” It was Lambert’s subdued voice this time. “If those two are really done for—burned to death, why don’t the bodies fall?”

“Caught on the staples, you silly fool! But just to prevent any chance of survival, you’d better ignite the other can.”

For a moment there was silence, then the two at the top of the dining-room flue heard the same roar down the chimney and again the white hot flame rushed past them.


“Now are you quite satisfied?” whined the wheezing treble. “They are burned to a crisp, I tell you. Tomorrow I’ll have the chimney cleaned and their remains brought down. It’s too late tonight. Well, Lambert,” the voice went on testily, “what have you got to say to that? For a man who makes bad mistakes, you have become exceedingly critical.”

“Very good, Professor. But may I be allowed to suggest that they may have climbed out the top of the chimney before we started the gasoline? Even now they may be hiding on the roof.”


“Oh, no, they are not hiding on the roof, my dear young man! I grant you that the youth Bolton was a midshipman in the Navy and can probably climb like a cat. But we were a little too fast for them, Lambert—a little too fast. Ever since I knew they had taken to the chimney, Otto and Henry have been watching on the roof. Inasmuch as I see them both standing in the doorway now, I think we may take it for granted, my dear Lambert, that the intruders have departed—not escaped.” There was a wealth of ugly sarcasm in the old man’s tone. “Now, Otto,” he added sharply. “How about it? What’s your report?”

“Nuthin’ come up, sir, but the flames, sir. Them two is burned to a frazzle!”

“You see, Lambert—you see!” Professor Fanely’s wheeze was triumphant. “Perhaps Lambert, you will permit me to run my own affairs in future without interference on your part. Just remember that you are my paid employee—nothing more.”

Bill nudged the detective. “That ought to hold friend Lambert for a while,” he whispered. “I certainly hope nobody remembers that this vent leads into the main chimney.”

“Sh—! There’s Otto again.”


“Beg pardon, sir.” The deep tones floated up the chimney. “What shall we do about the stiff upstairs?”

“Ah! The late Mr. Serge Kolinski! That was an unforeseen contretemps, was it not, Lambert? Well, the man had his uses. My plan, as you may have guessed, was to place him in the car with the late Mr. Ashton Sanborn. They would have been run down the road half a mile or so, the car wrecked and a revolver, with two empty chambers left in the hand of the secret service man. Tomorrow’s newspapers would have stated that I had turned over my butler to Mr. Sanborn. That the two must have fought in the car, with the result that in the struggle, both were shot with the same gun.” He stopped and blew his nose loudly. “But there again, Lambert, you stepped in and messed things up. Now we have Kolinski and two other bodies on our hands. Let me see—? Ah, yes, we will do it this way. Henry, tomorrow morning you will place the three bodies in the small plane. Put them in the luggage cockpit, and take Thomas along. Fly across the Sound and Long Island, and keep straight out to sea. When you are twenty-five miles from shore, have Thomas throw them overboard. You understand?”


“Yes, sir.”

“Then see that there are no more errors made. By the way, Otto, speaking of Sanborn’s car—what has become of it?”

“We used it to carry the young Indian feller down to the lodge, sir. It’s parked down there.”


“Very well. Go to bed now. At four o’clock go down to the lodge. Get the Seminole and drive him up to the laboratory. Don’t forget to change the license plates, though. We’ve had enough trouble through Kolinski’s oversight. I will leave later in the Fokker, so will arrive before you. And while I think of it, Otto, don’t drive up there by way of Heartfield’s. The state police may be watching that route. Drive from here to Bedford and up through Brewster to Pawling. I know that the road to Mizzentop is a bad one, but it’s safer that way. And thanks to Mr. Lambert, we shall all have to play safe for some little more. Have you got that straight now, Otto?”

“Yes, sir, I have.”

“Then good night all. We must be about early in the morning, remember.”

“Good night, sir,” murmured a chorus of voices.

“Oh, Lambert! Don’t forget to take the A44 notes in the morning. I will leave Mizzentop early in the afternoon for Washington. The President dines with me, you know, and we will want to go over the papers later.”

“Very good, sir. I shall bring them.”

There came the sound of footsteps, then all was quiet below.

“We’ll give them an hour,” Sanborn whispered. “You haven’t a flashlight, Bill?”



“There’s no other way of seeing the hands of my wristwatch to gauge the time. These matches blow out—”

“Don’t worry, sir. My dial is luminous. Wait till I rub some of the soot off—great grief! it’s after eleven! We’ve been here nearly two hours.”

“Well, we’ll wait until midnight. Let’s get up on the junction of the shafts, it will be more comfortable. My back and knees are half paralyzed.”

They pulled themselves up and squeezed into the narrow space, seated side by side.

“The old boy,” Bill observed, “certainly has a screw loose—but what do you think is in back of it all?”

“I don’t know, my boy. But I think we’d better be quiet. We might be heard if we keep on talking—and I’ve got to straighten out a lot of things in my mind and try to plan what our next three or four moves will be.”


“O.K. I’m terribly tired, guess I’ll snatch forty winks.”

Improbably enough, he did fall asleep right there, wedged between the sooty chimney wall and Ashton Sanborn’s shoulder. He was lost in the dreamless depths of exhaustion when a hand pressed his arm.

“Gee,” muttered Bill, “where am I? Oh, yes—is it twelve o’clock, Mr. Davis?”

The detective patted his arm lightly. “Yes, Bill, it’s exactly midnight. And Sanborn will do in the future, you know.”

The way down proved much easier than the ascent. Five minutes later they were standing in the dark library. Silently Sanborn went to the broken window and very slowly and carefully drew up the sash. Then he thrust his head outside, made sure that no one was about and nodded to Bill just behind him. They slid over the sill, dropped to the ground, and soon skirted the flower beds and reached comparative safety beneath the elms.


“Well! I’m sure glad we’re out of that dive!” sighed Bill. “Professor Fanely is the perfect host, I don’t think! What’s the next move? Get Osceola?”

“Yes, we must get him out of the lodge. I first thought of going to the nearest phone and calling in the Greenwich police. But Fanely seems to learn of our every move almost before we make it. He’s probably got someone watching police headquarters in Greenwich, and by the time enough men were rounded up to make the raid effective, Kolinski’s body would have disappeared and the old boy would certainly deny all knowledge of the affair. There’d be only our word against his, and seeing that Washington thinks I’m chasing a mare’s nest anyway, in trying to connect this prominent old man with crime—well, Fanely and his crew would get off scot-free.”

“And Ashton Sanborn would lose his job!”

“Exactly, Bill.”


They continued to head through the landscaped park toward the lodge, but kept well away from the drive. They were nearing the main entrance to the property before the secret service man spoke again.

“I’ve been thinking it over, Bill. The only way to get anything definite on that slippery old customer is to corral him in that laboratory he talked about. I’ve a hunch we’ll find evidence in plenty at Mizzentop. That laboratory, to my mind, is the center of this spider’s web.”

“Where is Mizzentop?”

“Why, Mizzentop was one of the fashionable resorts of this country, my boy, during the ’70’s and ’80’s. It’s up on the mountain above Pawling, New York, and nine or ten miles across the hills from Heartfield’s. The house Fanely blew up must have been purchased so that the Professor could have a hangout conveniently close by and yet not near enough to arouse suspicion if discovered. Mizzentop is really the name of the old hotel up there, from which the little settlement takes its name.”


They stepped behind a high bank of shrubbery, beyond which they could see the dim blur of the lodge in the darkness.

“That,” said Bill, “seems to me a queer place to locate a laboratory—right near a summer hotel, I mean.”

“Oh, the hotel isn’t running now—hasn’t been for thirty years or more. I was up there a couple of summers ago. It’s a huge frame building, three or four stories high, with wide verandas completely encircling it. It seemed to be in pretty good condition, then. Somebody was evidently taking care of the property, lawns kept up and so forth, but the place was untenanted.”

“I wonder—”

“What? Have you got an idea? Let’s have it then we’ll go after Osceola.”


“Well, I was just figuring,” Bill’s voice sounded thoughtful, “suppose Professor Fanely had bought that hotel and is using it for his laboratory, or whatever he calls it.”

The detective slapped his thigh sharply. “That is a new slant on it, Bill! Sounds like a good one to me. Just as soon as we get Osceola I’ll check up on it by telephone. In fact, I’ve a lot of phoning to do. Captain Simmonds and the State Police will have to be brought in now, Washington or no Washington!”

“But do you think Fanely will fly up there as he plans to do—when we’re found missing?”

“Certainly. Of course our disappearance will worry him quite a bit. He’ll probably decide that we slipped down the dining-room flue, when he finds out that it connects with the main chimney. But his line is absolute denial, and of course, he’ll have no idea that we overheard his talk in the library, or that we’re planning a raid on Mizzentop.”


“You’re right, I think. So here’s hoping the old boy takes his hop. Now we can go ahead for the Chief—”

He stopped short. The piercing shriek of a soul in mortal anguish rent the night. By common impulse Sanborn and Bill dashed for the darkened lodge.


Chapter XVII

Again that horrid shriek. This time there was no mistake from whence it came. Half breathless from their sprint, Bill and the detective reached the lodge and looked about for a means of entrance.

“Somebody,” whispered the secret service man, “is torturing Osceola!”

“Sounds like it, all right,” panted Bill, “but I’d have thought you could cut that Seminole into little pieces and never get a peep out of him! They must be monsters—There’s a light—window in the rear—come on!”


Bill in the lead, they dashed round the house, then stopped short. Through the kitchen screen door they caught a glimpse of a stranger lying on the floor, and Osceola’s figure bending over him. Careful as had been their movements, Osceola’s keen ears detected them, for he reached up quickly and switched off the hanging bulb.

“Speak or I’ll fire!” His order came like a shot.

Bill laughed shakily. “It’s only me, you wild Seminole—me and a pal of ours—we’ve come to rescue you from your torturers—and by gosh!—here we find you, in reverse! What’s the idea, boy?”

“Wait a sec—I’m coming out.”

They saw the Chief’s tall form loom up beside them, although his approach had been made without a sound.

“What’s going on, anyway?” Sanborn’s nerves were badly shaken and his relief on seeing Osceola free and sound in body sharpened his tone.

“Yes, what’re you tryin’ to do—scalp the man?” added Bill.


Osceola chuckled. “My gosh, did you think that yell came from me? Why, no, Bill, I’m trying something a little harder than that. I was just about to learn something of interest to all of us, when you butted in.”

“But what on earth were you doing to the man?” asked Sanborn.

“Oh, the old match trick. But what have you chaps been doing to yourselves? You look like a pair of nigger roustabouts!”

“Roosting in a chimney—a nice sooty one, too.” Bill turned to the detective. “Those keen eyes of his have found us out. And the match trick, I believe, consists of placing a lighted match between the victim’s toes.”

“But we can’t have that—it’s torture!” exploded Sanborn heatedly.

Bill laughed.


“Shut up, this isn’t funny,” growled Osceola. “Do you want that guy in there to hear and spoil everything?” He leaned close to Sanborn. “It’s hardly ever necessary to let a low-class white feel the flame. This fellow screamed when I lit the match, and again when I put the unlighted end between his toes. You see? You just make a lengthy explanation of what is going to happen to him before you start. His imagination does the rest.”

“But Osceola—there is a possibility of burning—and I don’t like it.”

“All right, sir. I’ll light one match and stick another, an unlighted one, between his tootsies! He’ll bleat just the same. You see, when I was tied up I heard this man and his wife talking about a laboratory or factory that the Professor runs up at a place called Mizzentop. And I heard just enough to make me curious—I—”

“Go ahead, then. Find out what goes on in that laboratory, and we’ll know the answer to the winged cartwheels. But don’t you think you’re taking chances in a lighted room with nothing between you and the night but a screen door?”


“Huh—” grunted Osceola, “that fellow hasn’t had a bath in months—it’s a warm night, Mr. Sanborn. I prefer taking chances with bullets to being asphyxiated!”

Sanborn chuckled. “Go to it, Chief—but no rough stuff, remember. Turn on the light again if you wish. Bill and I will keep watch outside. The people up at the big house have gone to bed, but it’s just as well to take precautions. And we can hear anything your friend may have to say from the shadow of the porch.”

They walked up to the porch and Osceola went inside the house. Then the light went on in the kitchen and the young Seminole started speaking.

“Well, Mr. Skunk! Some friends of mine are out back. They are also interested in hearing about Mizzentop. So, that being that, I’m going to light another match—”

“No, no! I’ll tell—I’ll tell!”


“Good enough. But calm yourself, bozo—there’s no need to shout the glad tidings all over Connecticut!”

“But the Professor, sir—he will—”

“The Professor is having his own troubles, my friend. Anyway, for some time to come, you and your amiable wife in the other room will be occupying nice little cells in a big, safe jail! Out with it now—or I shall become impatient.”

“Very well, sir, I’ll tell.” Still thoroughly frightened, the man spoke submissively. “Just what was it you wanted to know?”

“Everything that you know about this silver dollar business, and the place up at Mizzentop. Make it snappy, though! I don’t want to hang around here all night.”

“Yes, sir. Professor Fanely is crazy—crazy on one subject. I noticed it coming on last year, and this spring, he got worse. ’Twas then he started this token bunk. Him and that big secretary of his, Lambert. Every one of us was handed out one of them stamped dollars, and we was all sworn to secrecy and given a number. Mine’s thirteen, and it’s brung me nuthin’ but bad luck.”


“—So you’re the guy that broke into the Boltons!”

“I was, sir—got in by a winder. But I didn’t get nuthin’—and I lost my token into the bargain. Professor raised the roof about it, and docked my pay, too.”

“That was just too bad,” declared Osceola sarcastically. “Now go ahead with the rest of it—this organization, and old Fanely’s crazy fancy.”


“It weren’t no fancy, sir. Professor Fanely, for all his friendliness with the big bugs down in Washington, hates the whole bunch of ’em like poison. He wanted to be President, but they wouldn’t let him run—too old to be considered, I guess. It’s been preyin’ on his mind ever since the last election, but the old boy was foxy, he kept it pretty much to himself. Lambert told me, though, he used to blow up to him. Well, last spring he made up his mind to get even with the government. Nobody but a crazy man would have thought up the plan. Me and some of the others that worked for him didn’t want to go into it. It wa’nt no use, though; we knew what we’d get in the end if we welshed. And he raised our pay then, you see—”

“I see. But what was this crazy plan?”

“He hired a lot of thugs and dope runners in the big city, sir. And he’s been importing big lots of cocaine from Europe. The old hotel up to Mizzentop was bought and fitted up as a kind of laboratory-factory, and the dope was stored up there. That house he blew up was where the factory super and some of his head men stayed. Professor Fanely, of course you know, is terrible wealthy. For years he’s been what they call a great phil—philan—”

“You mean philanthropist, I take it?”


“That’s it—couldn’t think of it for a minute, sir. Well,—his speciality is canned goods. He spends millions every year on ’em. Has ’em distributed to the poor and the near poor all over the United States. Even his friends get big cases of canned goods from him at Christmas time. It’s his hobby—he’s known the country over for it.”

“Yes, I’ve heard about it,” said Osceola, “I remember his yen for giving away canned goods. He even sent down a large shipment to my Seminoles in Florida last winter. I ate some of the stuff myself, and wrote him a letter of thanks. But what do his canned goods have to do with the cocaine smuggling?”

“Why, the Professor has made a solution of the stuff, that he says is impossible to detect.”

“Detect—in what?”

Unconsciously Ashton Sanborn and Bill moved to a position just outside the screen door.


“Detect in the canned goods,” Number 13 explained. “That stuff is concentrated at Mizzentop. Every can has a very small hole bored in the top, and the solution is squirted into the soup or fruit or whatever’s in the can, by a small syringe. This little bit of a hole—it’s just big enough to push the needle through—is closed up again. It’s all done by machinery that’s been installed in the old hotel at Mizzentop.”

Great guns!” ejaculated the young Chief in horror. “Why, that will make dope fiends of thousands, perhaps millions of men, women and children!”


“That’s the Professor’s idea, sir. They’ll get the cocaine habit and never know how they done it. Professor Fanely says it’s the best way he knows of for getting even with a country that won’t have him for President. When I was up there yesterday, I seen a case of goods addressed to the White House. If he’s given enough time, he boasts he’ll have everybody in the United States, from the chief executive in Washington down, eating his free canned goods.”

Ashton Sanborn swung open the screen door and strode into the kitchen. “Look here!” he thundered. “How long have these shipments been leaving Mizzentop?”

“Oh—but the Professor has had such a job perfectin’ his cocaine solution that only the first boxes of the goods is ready to leave the factory.”

Sanborn mopped his brow. “Thank God for that! Then none of it has gone out yet?”

“That’s so, sir. I believe Mike intends to take the first truck loads down to the Pawling railroad station in the morning.”

“Well, now that we know, what are we going to do about it?” asked Osceola.


“Raid the place with State Police, of course. We’ll pile this man and his wife into the car with us, and light out for the Greenwich Police Station. I’ve got to get Captain Simmonds on the telephone at once. You fellows grab the woman. I’ll take care of this chap.” He swung the trussed figure over his shoulders and tramped out of the house.

“This couple tied you up, did they?” Bill asked the chief as they made their way toward the front room.

“They sure did. And chucked me into an empty coal bin down cellar. The idiots tied my hands in front of me, though. Gosh, how I hate the taste of hemp!”

“Gnawed through the rope, eh?”

“Yep, and found a hatchet in the cellar. When I came up here, Number 13 and his spouse were playing cards at the kitchen table. I guess they thought the whole Seminole Nation had arrived when I hurled the young ax and pinned 13’s coat sleeve to the table! Well, that’s that.”

“It is,” said Bill. “And what a prize you pulled! You know, it’s a gruesome ending. Funny thing—”


“It’s about the most awful thing you and I have ever been mixed up in, Bill. This canned food business is horrible!”

“I’ll say it is! Makes my bones feel like water just to think of it. But that isn’t what I meant—”

“What then?”

“Why, in every mystery book or detective story I’ve read, the tale ends when the mystery is solved.”

“And what’s that got to do with the price of doped canned goods?”

“Well, this mystery is solved, isn’t it? And yet we’ve got the hardest part of the whole thing ahead of us.”

“Catching old Fanely and pinning the cans to him?”

“That’s it.”

“This,” remarked Osceola, “is not a book, Bill. It’s a racket. Come along and give me a hand with the old woman.”


Chapter XVIII

Shortly after daybreak that morning, Bill Bolton spiralled his small two-seater down to a crosswind landing on a field back of Pawling, New York. The monoplane bumped onward over the rough stubble for a few yards and stopped.

Bill stripped off his headphone and turning in his seat, faced toward Osceola and Ashton Sanborn who were wedged into the rear cockpit. The field, though comparatively level, was high on the mountain side. From where he sat he had a lovely view of a wide valley and a village nestling amid the trees near the base of the mountain. But Bill ignored the view. He seemed rather put out this morning.


“Well, here we are,” he announced grumpily. “I hope you’re pleased. Orders are orders, but if you ask me, Mr. Sanborn, I think it’s the bunk.”

The two aft got out of the cockpit and Sanborn walked forward to Bill who was glaring at the instrument board.

“Sorry, old man,” the detective held out his hand. “Won’t you wish me luck?”

Bill turned his head quickly and smiled at his friend. “Of course I will, Mr. Sanborn,” his tones carried sincerity. “Here’s the best of luck to you, and a full bag!”

They shook hands. “I know,” said Sanborn, “that both you and Osceola feel badly about this. But you two fellows constitute our rear guard—and believe me when I say that you’re undertaking a very grave responsibility.”


Osceola came up and laid an affectionate hand on the older man’s shoulder. “Good hunting, boss. Neither Bill nor I are ever quite ourselves so early in the morning, and especially so after a heavy night.”

“Oh, I know I’m a grouch today.” Bill laughed, though not very convincingly. “But it’s a disappointment, after what we three have been through on this business, not to be in at the finish. Don’t apologize for me, Osceola. I know I’m acting like a spoiled kid—I’ll get over it after a while.”

“If the Professor spots my men and Captain Simmonds’ police,” said Sanborn, “his plane won’t land. Then it is up to you fellows to get after him, and I give you carte blanche—you can do as you like about it.”

“Force down the Fokker and capture the villain,” said Osceola. “If we can.”

“That’s the idea,” replied Sanborn cheerfully.


“Only,” said Bill, “Professor Fanely won’t spot the secret service men and the police because they’ll be too well hidden. All that you and I will get out of it, Osceola, is a rotten view of the battle, half a mile away, from those trees over yonder. It’s a grand life, this secret service stuff—if you like it!”

“I’ll tell you one thing, Bill,” promised the detective, “if this raid is pulled off successfully, and we round up the cartwheel gang in their lair, the people of the United States will have you to thank for saving them from the most frightful menace that has ever threatened this land of ours. And I’ll see that you get full credit.”

Bill leaned over the side of the cockpit. “Why, that’s the bunk, too, Mr. Sanborn—and you know it. Osceola found the first winged cartwheel and—”

“And ran it to a dead end,” supplied the chief calmly. “You were the brains of this piece, Bill.”

“And you also put in plenty of grit and brawn,” amended the secret service man.

“Heck, no. How about yourself, Mr. Sanborn? You’ve been running the show.”


“But if you hadn’t saved my life last night, Bill, my boy, I wouldn’t be running anything. And as the Chief says, without your brains, the winged cartwheels mystery would have remained unsolved—and I would still be watching poor Kolinski, over at Heartfield’s. No, Bill, you’ve played the lead in this piece, there’s no disputing it.”

Bill grinned and shook his head. “Sorry I can’t agree with you.” He leaned back in his seat and twiddled the stick. “Here comes Captain Simmonds. I reckon it’s time you and I, Osceola, pushed this bus into the shade of those trees. No need to give any more publicity than we have to, to our whereabouts.”

The State Police Captain strode across the field. “Morning, everybody. The men are posted, Mr. Sanborn. We’ve got the Mizzentop hotel completely surrounded. When Fanely arrives we’ll rush the plane and the house at the same time.”


“You won’t, unless you hurry—” Osceola’s sharp ears had detected a distant hum in the air to the southeast, “here comes the Fokker now!”

Simmonds uttered an exclamation of fury.

“Tarbell is in charge. He’ll handle things all right.” Sanborn though seriously disturbed, was outwardly calm. “Stupid of us not to expect Fanely earlier. But you and I had better hop it, Captain.”

The big airplane appeared suddenly over the top of the mountain; then, just as suddenly went into a steep right bank.

“Wait!” Bill snapped out the order. “They’ve seen us! Swing this bus into the wind. If that Fokker gets away now, we’ll have it to do all over again.”


The three on the ground grasped the situation instantly. They took hold of the tailplane and slewed it round in a quarter circle, as Bill switched on the ignition. Almost immediately, the inertia starter set the propeller revolving, and Osceola taking a running leap half vaulted, half climbed into the rear cockpit. They were moving slowly over the rough ground now, the engine roaring.

With his feet on the rudder pedals and right hand on the stick, Bill adjusted helmet and goggles as the engine warmed up. Then he cut down the throttle speed and clapped on his phone set. A twist of the head told him that Osceola was secure, and he roared the engine into twelve hundred revolutions per minute. They were rolling in earnest now. Bill lifted his ship off the ground with the engine beating a steady tattoo. Then he opened her up wide and pulled back on the stick.


They climbed steadily, heading after the Fokker, which now was but a dot to the southward, and bucking a twenty mile wind from the sea. The air was slightly bumpy, and sharp knocks on the bottom of their fuselage gave the impression of rolling over cobble-stones. Far above the roaring plane, little clouds, like balls of fluff, swam in the light ether.

At fifteen hundred feet, the approximate altitude of the Fokker, Bill leveled off. The distant shape which had been growing smaller, now appeared to remain constant.

“We aren’t gaining any!” Bill heard Osceola’s voice through his ear phones.

“Oh, yes, we are! But you can’t notice the gain at this distance. That Fokker can’t do better than 118 m.p.h. high speed. I can squeeze 135 out of this crate.”

“But they’re miles ahead, Bill. If old Fanely takes a notion to have his pilot land him, all we’ll find is the deserted plane when we get there.”

“I know it, you old fusser—that’s why we’re going to climb again—Perhaps you aren’t aware that it’s bad business to change temperature too quickly?”


“But why go higher?” The young Seminole sounded annoyed. “We’ll lose speed climbing—and it will take us longer to land at the finish.”

“Think so? Well, it’s the only way we can possibly catch up with them in a hurry.”

“I can’t see that.” Osceola was frankly puzzled.

Bill pulled back the stick and sent them hurtling upward again. “See those clouds up there, Redskin?”

“Better than you, probably, Paleface. What about ’em?”

“Which way are they moving, dumbbell?”

“Toward the southeast—great snakes, that’s the way we’re flying, isn’t it! I thought we were bucking a stiff wind.”

“We are—but there’s another strata of air up yonder, and the current is blowing those clouds in the direction we want to go. If Fanely’s pilot had the sense of a louse he’d stick that wind on his tail as we will do, instead of bucking half a gale down here.”


“Thank you,” said the Chief. “Compliments are flying like airplanes this morning.”

“Don’t mention it, old top. I don’t think the Fokker is coming down yet awhile, though.”

“That’s good news. How do you figure it?”

“She’s over the Sound now, and heading for the Atlantic via Long Island.”

“That’s queer—they can’t be running off to Europe!”

“Not a chance—unless they’ve got extra fuel tanks aboard, and brimful at that.”

“What do you think the old bird’s up to?”

“How should I know?—Something nasty, without doubt. Got a rifle handy?”

“You bet.”

“Then get it out. See that your safety-belt is on tight, too. I’m going to worry them some when we catch up. Don’t fire unless I give the word, though.”


Osceola grunted something that Bill didn’t catch. The little Ryan was racing in level flight once more, roaring through the misty fluff balls with a thirty mile wind from behind. Far below, Long Island Sound appeared, a strip of dazzling silver between the Connecticut shore and the long narrow island from which it takes its name. Beyond, the blue Atlantic shimmered in the bright sunlight.

The Fokker, still flying at the same low altitude continued to head out to sea. Bill knew that he was lessening the distance between the two planes with every revolution of the Ryan’s propeller. He figured their ground speed at not less than one hundred and sixty-five miles per hour.

In amazingly short time the little ship closed up on the big one.

“Get ready for a nose over!” Bill’s voice was steady and strong.



The streamline steel tubing of the forward wing strut on the port side buckled slightly.

“Fire at will,” barked Bill into his transmitter and pushed forward the stick.

Over nosed the Ryan and with throttle wide open, she roared down on the Fokker’s tail. From the rear and above came two deafening detonations, and Bill saw the stabilizer and elevator to port and starboard of the Fokker rudder disappear into thin air. For an instant the big bus reeled drunkenly, then shot nose first for the sea, fifteen hundred feet below.

With wings creaking, Bill brought the Ryan up on an even keel, then banked. On the surface of the ocean there rose a cloud of spray. The Fokker had disappeared from sight.

“Gosh!” cried Bill. “That was a quick one!”

“I’ll say so. They must have drowned like rats in a bucket—or do you think any of ’em will come up?”


“Not a chance. They died when she struck. Think of the speed they were traveling! I could hardly see her nose under. Well, they started the shooting. That’s why old Fanely led us out here.”

“Didn’t want a gallery from below watching eh?”

“That’s my guess. Gee whiz, you certainly got in a couple of pretty ones! What have you got in there—a three-pounder?”

“Your father’s elephant gun—” Osceola told him. “And explosive bullets. Another shot, and I’d have had the whole tailplane off.”

“Well, you’ve got no kick coming,” said Bill. “Let’s hike for home, shall we? Nobody will ever see Professor Fanely and Mr. Lambert again. You’ve saved the government a big expense this morning, Redskin!”

“Oh, there’ll be plenty of trials for the newspapers to grow rich on out of this business, Bill.”


“Yes, I reckon Sanborn and the police corralled a bunch of winged cartwheels at the factory while we were away on our joy-ride.”

“Sure—and look! Look, Bill!

Their chase had led them miles to the southeast and now they were approaching New York City on their return toward Connecticut. They were speeding over the Narrows, heading up the harbor when Osceola uttered his exclamation. High over the Battery, and downtown Manhattan, a skywriter was at work. Together the lads watched the airplane spell out its gigantic smoke letters above the city.


“That’s enough—” cried Bill in a disgusted voice, and headed the Ryan over Brooklyn. “Fast workers, aren’t they? Well, it looks as if Mizzentop has fallen.”

“I guess it has. Remember what Ashton Sanborn said about you getting the credit?”

“Yes, I do. He’s kept his promise all right—confound him!” said Bill.


Transcriber’s Notes